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Virginia Piedmont Science Fair to be held this Saturday outside Charlottesville

The Virginia Piedmont Regional Science Fair showcasing the scientific discoveries and ingenuity of middle and high school students from across the region will be held this Saturday at the University of Virginia’s North Fork Discovery Park outside Charlottesville.

More than 140 students from public, private, independent and home schools in Albemarle, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Green, King George, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties as well as the city of Charlottesville will put their projects on display as part of the 44th annual regional science fair.

“We are excited to showcase the remarkable talent and passion for science among the students in our region,” Adrian Felts, the fair’s director, said in a statement. “The fair provides a platform for students to explore their scientific interests, engage with peers and experts, and ultimately, make meaningful contributions to the world around us as they pursue careers in the STEM fields.”

The event will be open from 2:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. for a public viewing of the students’ exhibits as well as an award ceremony after which students will learn if they advance to state, national and international competitions.

The first place winners of the senior division, open to ninth- to 12th-graders, will automatically advance to the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair held on April 13 at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. The top winners in the junior division, sixth- to eighth-graders, will then move on to an online submission process for the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge. If selected, they will attend a project showcase held in October in Washington, D.C.

Judges will also name two grand winners in the senior division on Saturday to represent the region in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. A weeklong event planned for this May in Los Angeles, the Regeneron fair is the world’s largest precollege STEM — or science, technology, engineering and mathematics — competition.

To make it to California, contestants must first face Saturday’s judges who will evaluate contestants based on various criteria, including creativity, presentation and application of the scientific method.

The regional fair’s organizers sent out a call last month for volunteers with experience in the STEM subjects to serve as judges. The event usually has roughly 90 to 100 volunteers, but received a record-breaking number of roughly 130 this year, according to Felts.

This year’s judging panel features individuals from a range of Central Virginia technology companies and government agencies, including the National Ground Intelligence Center, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the University of Virginia, Booz Allen, Signature Science, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force.

“The number of judges this year is wonderful,” Felts told The Daily Progress. “We got a great response.”

For those interested in investing in “the budding scientists and innovators of tomorrow,” Felts said the fair is always in need of sponsors to help cover the travel expenses for Saturday’s winners as they take their projects to the next level within the commonwealth or across the country.


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