MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Monroe County School District junior and senior division winners will advance on to the state STEM Fair.

District officials said there were close to 100 student projects presented at the Regional STEM Fair at Sugarloaf School from across the district representing 14 schools. They worked hard and competed to represent Monroe County in the State Science and Engineering Fair March 27th through March 30th in Lakeland, Florida. More than 1000 students from all over Florida will converge to show off their scientific research.

Students competed in three separate divisions at the regional level within the district: elementary (grades 4, 5), Junior (grades 6-8), and Senior (grades 9-12). Only students in the junior and senior division are eligible to move onto the State Science and Engineering Fair. The elementary division had 57 projects presented by both individuals and teams for a total of 71 students. The junior division had 36 projects presented by both individuals and teams for a total of 51 students. The senior division had 11 projects presented by both teams and individuals for a total of 14 students.

Students presented their projects during a series of interviews for two separate rounds. Judges looked at students display boards, research plans as well as asked a series of questions about the project and the student’s research. A total of 16 judges participated this year from organizations such as Monroe County School District, NOAA, National Weather Service, Marine Lab, Key West Botanical Garden, National Park Service and Reef Relief.

Superintendent Mark Porter said the level of scientific rigor is always impressive to see with the projects at the district’s Regional STEM Fair. Mr. Porter added, officials made modifications to the timeline and requirements for the STEM Fair due to Hurricane Irma. “Every year it is exciting to see the work of the students who have advanced to the regional fair. This STEM Fair was special because the student engagement and high quality of the projects proved the students want to show up and do the work, even when life gets challenging.”

Based on the scores from judges, eight eligible projects were selected to represent Monroe County at the State Science and Engineering Fair:

Senior Division:

Zane Absten, Coral Shores High School- Bacteria at the Beach

Kirsten Haughey, Key West High School- Hurricane Shower

Nicole Lera, Marathon High School- Head Games

Stephen Franks and Michael Panse, Coral Shores High School- Is the Tide on your Side?

Junior Division:

JP Unger, Treasure Village Montessori- Amazing Algae

Sophia Borders, Treasure Village Montessori- Aro Vs Geo

Olivia Sargent, Treasure Village Montessori- The Eroding Keys!

Marquisha Abraham, Rain Banks, Bethann Hewlett, Marathon Middle School- 50 Days of Tomatoes

Monroe County School District Science Coordinator Melissa Alsobrooks said this day could not have been possible without community participation. “A special thank you to all the parents, teachers and students who attended the Monroe County Regional STEM Fair, it would not be possible without all of your support. Thank you to the Monroe County School Board and Superintendent Mark Porter for their continued support of science inquiry for all students. Thank you to the Monroe County School District Curriculum Team for organizing and providing the event.  ”

She continued, “We would also like to thank the Marathon branch of Centennial Bank for sponsoring lunch for our junior and senior division competitors. And of course a very tremendous thank you the 16 judges who spent their day working with our wonderful students.”