Science and creativity take center stage at RVGS Project Forum

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Shawn Nowlin
shawn.nowlin@ourvalley.org

Ten Craig County students competed in the 2020 Roanoke Valley Governor’s School (RVGS) Student Project Forum on February 2 at Patrick Henry High School. Savannah Cady and Tyler VanDyke titled their project “The Effect of Pseudoephedrine of the Heart Rate of Daphnia magna.”

Often referred to as a “science fair on steroids,” the purpose of the annual Student Project Forum is to allow RVGS students to present the research from the intersession projects they have worked on for months. The decision was made years ago to hold the event at Patrick Henry High because RVGS does not have a room big enough for the presented projects.

Young science enthusiasts explained their ideas and research when judges came to their tri-fold poster boards. Projects ranged from “The Effect of Flavonols on Human Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation” to “Comparative Analysis Regarding Sex of Patient and Genetic Mutations in Glioblastoma.”

“Our students have been working hard on their experiments throughout January, even longer in some cases. I’m very proud of what our students have accomplished with the support of their teachers, ” RVGS Director Mark Levy said. “We are highly appreciative of the many folks who helped make Project Forum happen, such as the judges who shared their professional expertise, the many parents who volunteered to help with the event, and Melissa Fisher for planning and organization.”

Salem High junior Ben Newman and his partner, William Fleming junior Kevin Cruz, conducted a detailed experiment on how to analyze sunflowers’ phytoremediation capacities for heavy metal pollutants.After he graduates from high school, Newman plans to study music and biology in college.

“This event allows students the opportunity to be recognized for their hard work throughout the school year thus far. Without guidance from teachers and preparation by the faculty and staff, none of the RVGS students would have the opportunity to conduct such sophisticated research,” Newman said.

Caden Smith and Katelyn Crumpacker, both Salem High sophomores, titled their project “A Comparison of the Effects of Bacitracin and Cannabidiol on the Growth of S. Epidermidis.” Salem High junior Simran Gill’s project was called “The Impact of Pharmaceuticals on Aquatic Life using Danio rerio as a model.”

Terri Janiga, the RVGS Community Outreach Coordinator, enjoyed the energy, enthusiasm and curiosity the participants brought to the event.

“Preparation from each student is different. Some research and perform their experiment just in this school year. Others have been working for a full year or longer on their projects,” Janiga said. “Some students are able to gain internships at area labs and perform their research under a mentor at the site.”

Approximately 270 students participated in Saturday’s event from seven school districts: Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin, Roanoke City, Roanoke County and Salem. First-place winners have the opportunity to compete in the Western Region Science Fair next month.

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