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The 2017 Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair showcases more than 1700 student projects

Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair showcases student projects

February 18, 2017

More than 2,100 students from all grade levels competed in the 2017 Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair Tuesday, February 14, at the Tampa Convention Center.

This STEM fair is one of the largest STEM Fairs in the Southeast. STEM – which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – has become one of the most popular areas of study for students across the nation.

Larry Plank, the director for K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, said, “This is not a single day event. Students have spent months or even years working on their projects.”  The STEM Fair is the largest academic competition Hillsborough County Public Schools puts on with more than 100,000 students competing at their schools to get to the regional level.

The kickoff breakfast featured guest speaker Jasmine Roberts, a proud product of the Hillsborough County Public School system and veteran of many, many science fairs and competitions before attending John Hopkins University where she earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology.

Roberts told the audience how participating in competitive science like the STEM Fair from third grade until graduation gave her employment experience that many of her classmates were lacking looking for a job after earning a degree. She also praised the Hillsborough County School system for offering, “Any type of help, not just in science, but in life,” before heading off to her duties as a judge for this year’s STEM Fair.

After finding one of his father’s books on algorithms in the garage, Strawberry Crest High School freshman Parth Kulkarni was watching a program on the National Geographic Channel about ants when he envisioned the hypothesis for his project on “Meta-Heuristic Algorithm Using Colony Optimization”. His research creating an algorithm based upon three basic movements of ants during a search pattern won the Mu Alpha Theta and the Intel Excellence in Computer Science Awards. Kulkarni hopes further research in this area will one day lead to diagnostic healthcare.

Bayan Gazmouz’s project titled: “Does Canned Baby Food Affect a Baby's Health?” won the Florida Association of Science Teacher’s Award. Gazmouz, who attends Williams Middle Magnet in the 6th grade, experimented to test the pH of organic vs commercial baby food and cited medical research on the effects of acid reflux and cavity development in infants.

The middle and high school winners will be hosted by Bristol-Myers Squibb for a day of learning with BMS scientists and engineers focused upon careers in STEM and strategies for success in the State of Florida Science and Engineering Fair to be held later in March.

“We thank our sponsors, particularly Bristol-Myers Squibb, Stantec, and TECO, as well as the nearly 600 judges who assisted this week during our three days at the Tampa Convention Center,” Plank said after being introduced by Roberts at the opening ceremonies.

Visit the Hillsborough County Public School’s STEM webpage here for a list of STEM fair winners as well as information for ongoing STEM activities in Hillsborough County.

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