Awards Presentations Scheduled for April 11
Finalists Amanda Holly, Brittany Wenger head to Intel International Fair in May
Sarasota, Florida – April 4, 2012 – Sarasota County’s brightest young scientists will be honored with prizes, cash awards and – for two top-ranked high school students – a chance to shine in international competition at the Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair Awards on April 11. The annual awards event will be held at the School Board auditorium, 1980 Landings Boulevard, starting at 6:00 p.m.
Superintendent Lori White, district leaders and donors will recognize 32 students from third through twelfth grades who were overall winners in sixteen different categories of research this year. Special prizes and cash awards for exceptional projects will also be presented. Two students will go on to represent Sarasota County next month at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh.
Susan Scott, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, will present awards to overall winners in each category in elementary (grades 3-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). The fair’s major sponsors will award scholarships to outstanding high school participants at the end of the evening.
Two Faulhaber Foundation Prizes for the Scientific Exploration of Nature of $1,000 each will be awarded. One will be presented to a Suncoast Polytechnical High School student, Anasthasia Herdiansyah. Her project, “Does Color Affect Wavelength?” placed first in high school botany. The other Faulhaber prize will be split by a student team from Sarasota High School, Zelda Blowers and Courtney Dust. The pair collaborated on the top-scoring project in the field of earth science, “The Effect of Area and Distance on Species Richness for West Coastal Florida Island Sanctuaries.”
For the second year in a row, the $500 Dart Foundation Award for Medicine & Health will go to Brittany Wenger, Out-of-Door Academy. This year’s project won Wenger a first place in computer science for her project, “Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.”
Two Omar Y. Cooper Student Achievement Awards will be presented this year. Both offer a $2,000 prize and a year-long mentorship. Courtney Astore won for her work while at Suncoast Polytechnical High School, competing with a research project entitled "Autism: Providing Oral Sensory Tools for Successful Outcomes." Sarasota High’s Thomas Donovan Keene won for his project, “How do the Life Cycle of Flies and Ants Influence the Determination of the Post-Mortem Interval?” Over the next year, Astore and Keene will have the opportunity to do advanced work with professional mentors in their fields of choice.
Next month, the two overall winners of the high school contest will fly to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to compete internationally. Sarasota High’s Amanda Holly and Out-of-Door Academy’s Brittany Wenger will represent the county at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) from May 13-18. This marks a return trip for Wenger, who attended the Intel ISEF in Los Angeles in 2011 and placed fourth overall in her category.
All expenses for travel, entry fees, and chaperone to participate in the Intel ISEF are paid for by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.
The Intel ISEF has been called the “Olympics, the World Cup, and the World Series of science competitions.” Now in its 62nd year, the Intel ISEF is the world's largest pre-college science competition and the only science project competition for students in grades 9-12. The Intel ISEF brings together students, teachers, corporate executives, and government officials from around the world. This year, more than 1500 students from 65 countries will compete for over $4 million in scholarships, tuition grants, scientific equipment, and scientific trips.
Brad Porinchak, Sarasota County Schools’ science curriculum specialist and the fair’s director, said that 731 Sarasota County students from 44 public, private and home schools submitted 603 individual and team projects to the regional competition this year. More than 70 volunteer judges helped determine the overall winners, winners in each of the categories, and recipients of special awards. Student projects were evaluated at county-wide competition held at Robarts Arena in late January and early February. First place projects were featured at the Sarasota County Fair in March.
Sarasota County Schools collaborates with the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Sarasota County Fair Association to present the fair each year. Students participate by completing research in science, engineering, math or technology using the scientific or engineering method. The Education Foundation underwrites the regional fair, the county’s participation in international competition, and numerous cash awards through the generosity of community sponsors.
Local sponsors support the Regional Science Fair at various levels. DaVinci Sponsor is The Faulhaber Foundation, Inc. Einstein Sponsor is the Dart Foundation.
Amanda Holly, Sarasota High School, one of two overall winners who will represent Sarasota County at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh in May.
Science Fair judge Cathy Walsh with Brittany Wenger, discussing the Out-of-Door Academy student’s project, “Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.” Wenger is one of two overall winners who will represent Sarasota County at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh in May.