State science fair winners compete for international STEM awards

Three students represented Maine high school at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, Ariz., where 1,600 of the top Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students in the world competed for awards and top honors from May 12-17.

Harry Pershing, Meagan Currie and Mary Butler earned this opportunity by placing as “Best in Show” projects in the 2013 Maine State Science Fair. They also received all-expenses-paid trips to compete in the international fair for themselves and their teachers. This is the second year that Maine has sent students to this level of competition.

Pershing, of Greely High School, received the Distinguished Achievement Award of $2,000 from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and a trip to the SEG International Exposition and Annual Meeting. Pershing also placed fourth in the category of Physics and Astronomy.

Currie, also of Greely High School and the only second-time attendee from Maine at the Intel ISEF, presented her work, “Effects of Environmental Stressors on the Filtration Rates of the Blue Mussel Mytilus edulis. She was presented with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award of $500, a NOAA ALL Hazards Weather Radio and a certificate signed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. Currie also placed second in the Animal Science category.

Butler, a Bangor High School sophomore, intends to perfect her research on using cellulose nanofibers as filtration aids in a low-cost water filtration system so that she can return to next year’s competition.

“We could not be prouder of our students,” said Billie Cunningham, the Jackson Laboratory’s education outreach coordinator. “They are ready and able to compete on a global level in the STEM disciplines, and the Maine State Science Fair will continue to support them however we can.”

The three were also honored by Governor Paul R. LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen in a State House ceremony and STEM celebration Wednesday.

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