Students recognized at science fair awards

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Science Fair took place Jan. 23 in the Osceola Middle School gymnasium, and students from the middle schools, freshman campus and high school were recognized for their work.

Taking home Best in Show honors at the fair were Yearling Middle School’s John Williamson II for biological sciences junior division, YMS’s Jordan Robbin for physical sciences junior division, Okeechobee High School’s Cheska Nagdadaro for biological sciences senior division and Okeechobee Freshman Campus’s Anna Velten for physical sciences senior division.

From left to right the Okeechobee Science Fair Best in Show winners: John Williamson II, winner of Best in Show for Biological Sciences junior division, Jordan Robbin, winner of Best in Show for Physical Sciences junior division, Cheska Nagdadaro, winner of Best in Show for Biological Sciences senior division and Anna Velten, winner of Best in Show for Physical Sciences senior division. Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion.

In addition to receiving first-, second- and third-place ribbons for their projects, nearly $1,300 in special awards were given to students thanks to money donated by community sponsors.

Okeechobee Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy opened the awards section of the science fair by thanking everyone for attending and giving his thoughts on what the science fair means to the Okeechobee school district.

“I believe this is one of the most exciting events that our school district has to offer,” said Mr. Kenworthy to the crowd in attendance. “The science fair allows our students to deepen their understanding of science in a topic they love. When you take a project that can combine the possibility of science, mathematics, writing, reading and sometimes technology, it really doesn’t get better than that in terms of preparing yourself for your college career.”

Projects created by Okeechobee students this year ranged from the impact of nutrient runoff and the effects of vitamins on memory in mice to even using the scientific method to determine whether home field advantage in the NFL was an actual advantage to the home team. (It was.)

Osceola Middle School’s Emma Raulerson stands next to her science fair project on the pH balance of different bottled waters. Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion.

Osceola Middle School’s Mason Downing accepts his third place ribbon at the Okeechobee County Science Fair on Jan. 23. Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion.

A number of students were also selected to take their projects to the Heartland Regional Fair happening in February.

Representing Okeechobee in the junior division will be Conner Rucks, John Williamson II, Ryan Sanchez, Janessa Whidden, Jacob Tumoszwicz, Connor Wendt, Aubrey Cook, Amairani Hernandez, Madison Hilliard, Lily Cobb, Kateri Smith, Rachel Hogenkamp, Amber Cook, Summer McGlamory, Branden Perez, Adam Moore, Gisselle Medrano, Alison Denton, Tori Trent, Jordan Robbins, Abigail Medrano, Rafe Sexton, Anastasia White, Ethan Blomefield, Jasmine Desai, Clea Judilla, Joshua Viray, Juan Garcia and Savannah Moreno.

Representing Okeechobee in the senior division will be Jaydon Egger, Chloe Soriano, Florinda Xandrea Cea, Cheska Magdadaro, Anna Velten, Ayan Desai, Zachary Reister, Jillian Johnston, Chris Cobb, Sunrish Swing Conde, Jake Bessey, Alize Merchant, Piper Hans, Kayla Morgan, Michael Rowley, Isabella Johnson, Haley Conrad, Eriberto Ruiz-Garcia and Dalton Callahan.

After the science fair, Okeechobee science teacher Melinda Gray took to Facebook to thank everyone who had made it possible.

“I wanted to give a huge shout out to the people that made today’s Okeechobee County Science Fair a huge success,” Mrs. Gray’s post began. “To the judges that gave up their time to get up super early to be there for 4-5 hours of talking with the kids and learning about what drove their research, thank you. To Golden Corral, Pizza Heaven, Domino’s and the teachers and community members who donated breakfast and lunch for our judges and teachers, thank you. To the students for taking the time to research, design, test and complete your boards and papers, it was a job well done and we are proud of you.

“Now, we have a bunch of students headed to the Heartland Regional Fair in Avon Park. Okeechobee has a great group of kids to send.”

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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