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Rockdale students shine at state science fair
Rockdale seniors who attended the state science fair

Four Rockdale students took home "Best in Category" award at the 66th Georgia Science and Engineering Fair held at the Classic Center in Athens, Ga., March 2729.

Molly Niemczyk, a sophomore at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, was recognized for the best project in the behavioral science category for her work on the effect of dyslexia on eye movement. Robert Raines, a Magnet School junior, won best electrical and materials engineering project for his work optimizing grapheme conductivity under pressure variations. Samer Yassin, a junior at Rockdale Magnet School, won best plant sciences project for studying the effect of biofilms on plant growth. Nicole Bourland, a student at Memorial Middle School, won best computer science junior division project for her work creating a video game for the visually impaired.

Students were selected to participate in GSEF at Regional fairs across the state, and each year the process becomes more competitive. Rockdale's students had advanced from the Rockdale Regional Science Fair.

"We are certainly proud of how well all of our students defended their research at the state competition. Four students from our regional fair winning best in category awards highlights the high level of student research that students conduct in our schools," said Amanda Baskett, co-director of the Rockdale Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

A total of 39 Rockdale middle and high school students won honor awards with eight receiving first honors. Honors ribbons indicate a student's relative position in the overall fair. They do not take into consideration either project category or student's grade, although Senior and Junior division are calculated separately. First Honors go to projects with total scores ranking at or above the 90th percentile based on overall scores, regardless of category.

Rockdale students also won ten specialty awards at the fair ranging from the Surgeon General's Award, won by Shannon McNeely from Rockdale Magnet School, to the UGA Poultry Science Award, won by Anna Miller from Rockdale Magnet School. Specialty Awards are given by the GSEF Judging Team and representatives of sponsoring organizations

"This is the largest group that our region has ever taken to state and it was wonderful that more students than ever had the chance to engage with professional scientists and engineers," Baskett said.

"GSEF was interesting because it let you see what students do in other regions and helped me realize that there is a big field of up and coming researchers," said Jordan McCray, a junior at Rockdale Magnet School who won first honors at the state fair for his work with antibiotic resistance.

Three student projects from the Magnet School will be advancing to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) after winning bids from the Rockdale Regional Science and Engineering Fair in February.

"I look forward to sharing our research with other students at this highest level. The most rewarding thing has been following through on the research idea and seeing it to completion," said Aarron Barron, who will be presenting his solar energy project along with partner Crystal Brockington at ISEF. Chelse Steele, Larry Jacobs, and Aqib Momin will also travel to Los Angeles to compete at Intel ISEF this May.