DATE: March 19, 2013
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and
Strategic Communications Officer
Albemarle County Public Schools Students Win Best in Show at Piedmont
Regional Science Fair; County Students Earn 65 Awards Overall
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Albemarle County
Public Schools students earned both Best in Show awards at the 32nd annual
Piedmont Regional Science Fair held this past week at the John Paul Jones Arena
in Charlottesville. Overall, students from the division won 11 of 15 first
place awards in the senior (high school) division, a first place award in the
junior (middle school) division, and 35 special awards.
Two seniors in Albemarle High School’s Math,
Engineering & Science Academy (MESA) won Best in Show honors, earning
expense-paid trips to the International Science & Engineering Fair at the
Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona from May 12-17. Simanta Gautam’s
project featured a novel algorithm using abstract mathematics for distributing
points on higher dimensional spheres, while Sydney Giacalone’s project tested
foods for genetically modified ingredients (GMO) and discussed the need for GMO
The Best in Show alternates also are Albemarle County
students. Albemarle High School’s Andreas Ravichandran studied more effective
measures for containing infection from the spread of influenza, and Western
Albemarle’s Xiaoran Zhu developed a nasal spirometer to assist asthmatics.
First place winners in the senior division from
Albemarle High School included:
- Ana Daley and
Lindsey Brown in Behavioral & Social Sciences;
- Camille Leech and
Megan Schnell for Biochemistry;
- Collin Hensien and
Reece Echelberger in Cellular & Molecular Biology;
- Selena Feng in
- Meredith Hooper in
Earth & Planetary Science;
- Ben Beiter for
Energy & Transportation;
- Molly Thompson and
Elizabeth Rintels for Environmental Management;
- Simanta Gautam in
Ravichandran for Medicine & Health Sciences; and
- Sydney Giacalone
in Plant Sciences.
Xiaoran Zhu of Western Albemarle High School was
the first place winner in Materials & Bioengineering and received six
individual awards for his work.
“This is an extraordinary group of students, whose
contributions to solving real-world problems are just beginning,” said Jeff
Prillaman, who directs Albemarle County’s Math, Engineering & Science
Academy. “In our curriculum, we emphasize critical thinking skills,
collaboration among our students, creative applications of what they are
learning, and the need to effectively communicate the benefits of their
research. They did very well in the midst of some very exacting competition,”
In the junior division, John Barber from Sutherland
Middle School won first place in Electrical & Mechanical Engineering.
Overall, Albemarle High students earned 42 awards
at the regional science fair, and Western Albemarle students earned 11.
Students from Sutherland Middle School won eight awards, and Henley Middle
School students earned four.
All first place winners in the senior division are
eligible for the state science fair, which will be held on April 5 and 6 at the
Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. Winners at the state level
are eligible for the international competition in Arizona, which annually
attracts entries from more than 1,500 students from 40 different countries.
The regional fair included 11 different school
divisions, two private schools, and several home schooled students. More than
300 projects were entered in both divisions, and more than 350 students
participated in the fair.