SEBRING — Student projects in the district science fair covered a variety of science and technology disciplines with titles such as “Something Fishy,” “The Sweet Truth” and “Enzymatic Degradation of Bioplastic.”
Judges were reviewing about 75 middle and high school projects and interviewing the students who created them Wednesday at Sebring Middle School in advance of the awards ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday at the school.
Sebring High School husband and wife science teachers, Steve and Debbie Picklesimer, were among the group of teachers who served as judges for the competition.
“I love seeing science fairs; it is really enjoyable,” Steve Picklesimer said.
Early in his teaching career he had done a lot of judging at science fairs and now he is back to judging as the fairs now focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), he said.
He has been with students who competed with impressive projects at the international level, Steve noted.
Debbie Picklesimer said she has been judging the district science fair for a few years.
“Some of the projects amaze me; these children can really think a lot,” she said. “I am proud of a lot of them and I know they are going to go on to win.
“One of them might even go to the national [competition].”
Sebring High School student Pranav Anathan’s project, titled “Enzymatic Degradation of Bioplastic,” is quite extensive with data, including graphs and a chart and detailed explanations of his research, observations and conclusion.
Sebring Middle School seventh-grader William King’s project involved how effectively different types of soaps — Dawn, Ajax and Home Store from Dollar Tree — dissolved Crisco vegetable oil.
Dawn has a chemical reaction with the fats in the oil and cleans it much better than the other brands, he said.
Avon Park High School science teacher Amy Wagner Texley and Lake Placid Elementary School STEM coach Kathy Dehart served as judges and interviewed students about their experiments.
They ask students if they were to do the project again next year, what would they change?
“We see what they thought and then make some suggestions about how they might improve it and maybe do a multi-year project,” Wagner said.
Dehart said, “We always like to ask them about their research because that is one of the areas we want to see them strive and it is one of the things they need to understand in science, which is doing the research and having good background information to launch forward with.”
Some of the projects were related to local agriculture with two projects involving caladiums.
Wagner said real-world connections are important in how the experiment’s findings can be applied in a real-life situation.
Dehart added, “We want it to be fun, but we also want it to be meaningful in how it relates to your life.”