Students Participate in Virtual Maine State Science Fair on 3/28

Maine State Science FAir

The 74th annual Maine State Science Fair (MSSF), organized by The Jackson Laboratory and Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, was held virtually on March 28, 2020, and included 199 students representing 32 schools in 11 Maine counties. From this group, 142 finalists were selected to virtually present their research or engineering project to a panel of judges, in competition for coveted state titles and over $640,000 in scholarships and awards.

The Maine State Science Fair was originally scheduled to be held at The University of Maine, but the in-person event was moved online in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maine high school students have been working on their projects for months, with support from many dedicated teachers and mentors,” said Stefany Burrell, STEM Education Specialist, Maine Math and Science Alliance. “We knew we had to shift gears, and quickly, to ensure students still had the opportunity to present and potentially be rewarded for their work.”

“Despite the obvious difficulties, Maine students and teachers are creative and resilient,” said Michael McKernan, Program Director, STEM and Undergraduate Education, The Jackson Laboratory. “All of our scholarship partners, led by UMaine, stuck with us, and with the students.”

The winners were announced during a virtual award ceremony.

This year’s Grand Award winners include:

  • 1st Grand Award – Vetri Vel, Bangor High School, “Real-time Fall Detection System for the Elderly Using Deep Learning and Thermal Imaging”
  • 2nd Grand Award – Amara Ifeji, Bangor High School, “Using Biofiltration Media and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) to Enhance the Phytoremediation of Heavy Metals from Stormwater Reconstructed Wetlands”
  • 3rd Grand Award – Patrick Wahlig, Falmouth High School, “Precision and Relative Accuracy of Striped Bass Age, Proportional Length, and Origin Estimates from Both Scales and Sagittal Otoliths of Maine Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)”

In addition to the above awards, over $640,000 in scholarships, including several full-tuition scholarships, from The University of Maine, College of the Atlantic, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, St. Joseph’s College of Maine, University of Maine at Augusta, and Husson University were distributed to students who demonstrated creativity, innovation, aptitude and great scientific potential.

The following students received full tuition four-year Top Scholar awards from The University of Maine:

  • Meaghan Caron, Bangor High School
  • Hannah Dunn, Bangor High School
  • Nicholas Geiser, Bangor High School
  • Matthew Hafener, John Bapst Memorial High School
  • Grace Kessler, Maine Coast Waldorf School
  • Rachel Kingsley, South Portland High School
  • Ariel Larrabee, Hancock County Technical Center
  • Alexander Maker, Washington Academy
  • Alexandria Morgan, Washington Academy
  • Lilian Nowak, Bangor High School
  • Swetha Palaniappan, Cape Elizabeth High School
  • Vetri Vel, Bangor High School

The following students received a $20,000 four-year scholarship from the College of the Atlantic, renewable for four years.

  • Aniela Holtrop, Maine Coast Waldorf School
  • Ariel Larrabee, Hancock County Technical Center

The following students received full tuition four-year scholarships from the University of Southern Maine:

  • Josephine Ek, Robert W. Traip Academy
  • Adam Taddia, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science

The following students received a $5,000 four-year scholarship from the University of New England, renewable for four years:

  • Beau Briggs, Nokomis Regional High School
  • Jenna Drake, John Bapst Memorial High School
  • Marian Easton, Nokomis Regional High School
  • Josephine Ek, Robert W. Traip Academy
  • Natalie Shields, Medomak Valley High School

The following students received a $2,500 four-year scholarship from St. Joseph’s College of Maine:

  • Owen Arsenault, Noble High School
  • Natalie Shields, Medomak Valley High School

The following students received a $1,500 four-year scholarship from the University of Maine at Augusta, renewable for four years:

  • Alexandria Morgan, Washington Academy
  • Wade Wahlig, Falmouth High School

The following students received a $1,000 scholarship from Husson University:

  • Meaghan Caron, Bangor High School
  • Ariel Larrabee, Hancock County Technical Center
  • Alexandria Morgan, Washington Academy
  • Patrick Wahlig, Falmouth High School
  • Wade Wahlig, Falmouth High School

Acadia Institute of Oceanography and the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership offered experiential awards, including scholarships to attend residential summer camp programs.

The following students earned experiential awards for STEM enrichment programs in Maine:

  • Acadia Institute of Oceanography: Hannah Dyer, George Stevens Academy
  • Hurricane Island: Erin McCarthy, Bangor High School

The JAX Promising Scientist Award for outstanding research and engineering projects by 1st year students, given by The Jackson Laboratory:

  • Margaret Kastelein, Lincoln Academy
  • Anthony Ayer, Harpswell Coastal Academy
  • Jett Lindelof, Islesboro Central School
  • Aleah Sebrey, Medomak Valley High School
  • Hazel Van Dis, Islesboro Central School

The Reach Award for students from schools who are new to the Maine State Science Fair, given by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance:

  • Kylie Brown, Boothbay Region High School
  • Collin Peterson, Islesboro Central School
  • Thomas DiPhilippo, South Portland High School
  • Elizabeth Chattley, Hancock County Technical Center
  • Adam Nussbaum, Brunswick High School

MSSF Category Winners

  • Animal Sciences – Behavior and Ecology: Alexander Maker, Washington Academy
  • Animal Sciences – Nutrition and Development: Patrick Wahlig, Falmout High School
  • Behavioral Sciences – Cognitive Psychology: Molly Hale, Greely High School
  • Behavioral Sciences – Sociology and Mental Health: Isabel Harkins, Boothbay Region High School
  • Biomedical and Health Sciences: Ijeoma Obi, Bangor High School
  • Chemistry: Ogechi Obi, Bangor High School
  • Computer Science and Mathematics: Micah Pietraho, Brunswick High School
  • Engineering: Vetri Vel, Bangor High School
  • Environmental Sciences – Water Quality: Jordyn Miller, Bangor High School
  • Environmental Sciences and Engineering: Leila Davids, Bangor High School
  • Materials Science: Jaylee Rice, Nokomis Regional High School
  • Microbiology: Melissa Tian, Bangor High School
  • Plant Sciences: Amara Ifeji, Bangor High School

Additional winners of special awards from the Maine State Science Fair, include:

American Meteorological Society Award

  • Naomi Noack, Bangor High School
  • Chloe Grant, Addison Bracken, Rachel Kingsley, South Portland High School
  • Ogechi Obi, Bangor High School
  • Melissa Tian, Bangor High School

Association for Women Geoscientists Award

  • Ginny Hunt, Bangor High School
  • Jordyn Miller, Bangor High School

Society for Science and the Public Community Innovation Award

  • Isaac Burtis, Brunswick High School

Office of Naval Research Naval Science Award

  • Sydney Sheehan, Old Town High School
  • Vetri Vel, Bangor High School
  • Nathan Chatterton, Boothbay Region High School
  • Oscar Hennin, Morse High School

Stockholm Junior Water Prize

  • Jordyn Miller, Bangor High School
  • Rain Bugado, Noble High School
  • McKayla Kendall, Bangor High School
  • Mia Wang, Gould Academy
  • Amber Halligan, Medomak Valley High School
  • Liulu Yue, Gould Academy

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Award

  • Amara Ifeji, Bangor High School
  • Ogechi Obi, Bangor High School

Download results from the 2020 MSSF, including scholarships, category awards, special awards, and the Maine ISEF Finalists.

Maine State Science Fair is further supported by Texas Instruments, Maine Space Grant Consortium, and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics.

The Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance supports educators to teach STEM in more meaningful ways through professional development resources for K-12 educators, research and evaluation of STEM learning experiences, and building relationships and networks to sustain systemic statewide improvement.

The Jackson Laboratory offers educational programs for scientists throughout their careers — from STEM education for high school students and training for science and math teachers to courses and conferences for experienced researchers defining the cutting edge of genomics research and specialized training for physicians interested in incorporating genetics and genomics into their practices.