• 77°

UM hosts science, engineering fair

By Edwin Smith

University of Mississippi

Mississippi’s brightest and most creative junior high and high school students will compete for honors Tuesday as the University of Mississippi hosts the annual Science and Engineering Fair.

More than 600 hopefuls from across the state will converge on the floor of the C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum for the daylong event. All won first, second and third place in various categories and classes at the regional level to be eligible for the state contest. The event is supported by Northrup Grumman, Howard Industries and the Mississippi Engineering Society.

“We have 10 main categories,” said Matthew DeLoach, UM director of academic competitions and MSEF vice president. “These include Behavioral and Social Sciences; Biochemistry; Botany; Chemistry; Earth, Space and Environmental Sciences; Engineering, Technology and Mathematics; Medicine and Health; Microbiology; Physics; and Zoology.”

A Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Expo also is scheduled during the fair.

“We are inviting numerous on-campus academic departments that focus on STEM as well as the admissions office,” DeLoach said. “After the general awards judging in the morning, students, parents and teachers can visit the expo on the concourse and learn about what our departments are doing at UM. Also, admissions will be conducting group tours of campus for students that are interested.”

Creating opportunities

Hosting the state science and engineering fair may provide these talented students with opportunities to further their education and reach their full potential as future scientists and engineers, a UM development official said.

“Both our sponsor organizations and the university community are happy to host the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair because of its distinct STEM focus,” said Katie Morrison, director of corporate and foundation relations.

“The University of Mississippi is continually developing its STEM initiatives, facilities and programs to offer our students and research faculty the advanced courses and technology they need and to address critical national, state and local needs for a more STEM-educated workforce and citizenry.”

Excitement is building on campus regarding the construction of a 200,000-square-foot, $135 million science facility that has been underway since the announcement of the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation’s $20 million gift in seed funding for the effort. Led by a 12-member STEM Building Design Task Force, the vision is that the new complex will be one of the country’s leading, student-centered learning environments for STEM education.

Excited student

Edith Marie Green of Oxford is among the finalists looking forward to next week’s fair. Her project, examining “Now You See Me: Variations of Teens’ Perceptions of Social Issues,” won first place in the Region 7 Fair.

“I am thrilled and really excited to be going to state science fair,” the Oxford High School freshman said. “I almost didn’t believe it, but now I can’t wait to go.”

Green’s plans are to go to college and study history. “I may also dabble in the social sciences,” she said.

Each of the two state fair finalists selected will be eligible to participate in the upcoming Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, set for May 8-16 in Phoenix, Arizona.

For more about the MSEF, visit www.sefms.org/.