More than 220 students submitted 96 projects in three different categories of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for NOVA-Annandale’s 3rd Annual STEM Fair on April 18 in the forum of the Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center. This year’s theme was “Turn On Your Inner STEM.” The students engaged with judges, faculty, staff and their peers who attended the event, explaining their research, results and their interests in various topics.
Over the past three years, the STEM Fair has evolved into an event for learning, outreach, networking and creating opportunities for internships and mentorships. This year, more than 35 faculty and staff were engaged in mentoring students and volunteered to help organize the event and judge the projects. Representatives from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and ESC Federal also served as judges for the event.
“The STEM Fair gives students the opportunity for teaching and learning,” said Dr. Ritu Kansal, STEM Fair organizer and associate professor of chemistry. “It’s a competition, but this is a learning environment, and students have the opportunity to grow in their studies.”
This year, organizers reached out to the community including local high schools and George Mason University. Students from Robert E. Lee High School of Springfield, Virginia, also participated in the event and representatives from George Mason were present for the fair. Organizers also invited representatives from USGS, NASA and ESC Federal. Kansal said they hope to continue to collaborate with George Mason and local high schools for the STEM Fair in an effort to align the event with NOVA’s Pathways program and initiatives.
The judges were given time to walk around the fair and talked to students about their projects before deliberating on winners for each category. Winners received gift cards of $100, $75 and $50 for first, second and third places respectively in each category. This year’s winners include:
Math, Science and Engineering
“Designing a better retrieval system for electronics on high altitude balloons through gliders,” by Abdullah “Tarik” Agcayazi and Kemal Ficici (1st place)
“Robotics,” by Hua Dang, Krisna Chhouk, Samantha Garcia, Elijah Montes, Alexander Mendez and Mathew Sharp (2nd place)
“Machine Learning and Music: Recognizing Music Genres with Neural Networks,” by Victor Bieniek (3rd place)
“Cosmic Ray Muons in the Standard Model of Fundamental Particles,” by Cioli Barazandeh and Maryam Mohagheghi (1st place)
“Four Different Electrodynamic Wheels,” by Jorge Del Carpio Arispe, Brady Murphy and Vincent Cordrey (2nd place)
“Planning a Robotic Mission to Mars,” by John Rushing (3rd place)
Biological and Environmental Sciences
“Reconstruction of Evolutionary Relationships and Divergence Times of Pterioidean Mollusks through the Application of Fossil-Calibrated Molecular Clocks,” by Yash Kalbugi (1st place)
“Developing the MDEA-based Amine Gas Treating Unit via Installation of an Advanced Ion Exchange Technology Utilizing Sodium Hydroxide,” by Sami Kandil (2nd place)
“Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Teach Human Anatomy,” by Kathy Nguyen (3rd place)
Annandale Provost Pam Hilbert made an appearance for the event to talk to students about their projects, and refreshments were served as judges, community members, faculty, staff and students observed the various projects and networked throughout the day. For additional information about the Annual STEM Fair, visit the event website.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.