Tag Archive: Devices

Apr 05

Vermont State Science and Math Fair Recap

WHAT’S PLAYING: Live “Forever May Not Be Long Enough

Last week, I had the honor of being one of the judges for the nuclear and alternative energy and engineering sciences categories at the Vermont State Science and Math Fair.

The first thing I thought when I walked through the door was that I was seriously under-dressed. Everyone was wearing skirts and suits, while I was rocking a pair of jeans and my favorite t-shirt.

My second thought was “Holy Sh*t! These kids are amazing!”

Their projects ranged from subliminal messaging and environmental studies to alternative energy and string theory with everything in between.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. You’ve Got a “Friend” in Me? by Lindsey Marcy

Social media has long been a sore spot for me, so this project landed right in my wheelhouse. This savvy ninth grader created a fake Facebook account under a false name. That’s it. No picture, no personal info, just a name. She then sent friend requests under that name to every member of her class with Facebook accounts. Fifty-two percent of her class accepted her as a friend, allowing her to view personal information of seventy-eight percent of the freshman class. Yikes!

2. Conducting Electricity Using a Microbial Fuel Cell (Poop to Power) by Sally Kim and Alison Cook


These two brilliant young ladies modeled their project on cutting edge research going on in the world today. They wanted to assess the energy output of different sources of microbes: chemical/biological waste, sanitary wasted, and river water. They deoxygenated the waste using nitrogen displacement and then ran it through their homemade fuel cell. The best part about this project is not only did they find a way to make energy from waste products, but they were also cleaning the water. Talk about a win-win.  

Big ups to these young ladies, not only for handling poop in the name of science, but for their efforts for cleaner, greener energy.

3. Exotic Spheres in 4-dimensional Hyperspace by Jane Goodwin


This project attempted to explore Gluck twists and their properties as possible 3-spheres with nonstandard differentiable structure. To find a student willing to tackle the Poincaré conjecture was impressive. Discovering that this self-possessed and brilliant young lady was only in the tenth grade made it even more so. (It also made me wish that I had paid more attention in school.)

This list is by no means exhaustive. There were literally hundreds of great projects ranging from the mundane to the fantastic, but they all had two things in common: a love of science and a desire to make this world a better place.

We can all learn a lot from these kids. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year!

P.S. They also thought my rock-paper-scissors- lizard-Spock t-shirt was cool. So, I guess we can add “great sense of style” to the list as well.

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