Home-schooled students win big at science fair

Tony_Parra@link.freedom.com

Home-schooled students from Portales were some of the top winners in the 2005 New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair at New Mexico Tech in Socorro on April 9.
Megan Speshock and Alexandra Zablotsky each won awards for their science fair projects in the junior division. The junior division is for grades 5-8 and the senior division is for high school grade students.
Zablotsky’s project was titled, “The Antibacterial Properties of Honey: Going Beyond Taste.”
She won first place for her project in the microbiology category. Zablotsky said it was her first time competing in regional and state science fairs.
Zablotsky is an 11-year-old sixth-grader and her project was judged higher than sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from across the state. Zablotsky said she took a swab and wiped it around the house and then placed it on a petri dish. After bacteria grew on the petri dish, Zablotsky used honey to see how effective honey was in fighting bacteria.
“The honey kept the bacteria from growing,” Zablotsky said. “I learned more about honey and the possibilities of more uses for it than just to eat.”
Zablotsky also won first place at the Southeastern New Mexico Regional Science and Engineering Fair on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University on March 12. Students from Roosevelt, Curry, Chavez, Eddy, Lea, Lincoln, De Baca and Eddy counties participated in the regional science fair.
Speshock, who is in the eighth grade, won honorable mention honors for her project titled “Let’s Roll.” The “Let’s Roll” project tests and verifies the dice rolls using computer simulation. Speshock said she began working on her project six weeks before the state contest in Socorro.
“The experiment showed the percentages certain numbers were rolled,” Speshock said. “The experiment showed the greatest possibility was rolling a seven.”
Speshock said she attended Portales Junior High during her seventh grade year, but felt she had an advantage being home-schooled. Speshock said her schedule was more flexible to work on her project. Speshock won first place in the regional science fair at ENMU in March.
Both winners received a pin, certificate and an invitation to enter Discovery’s Young Scientist Challenge. Fair directors nominate six thousand students from the United States to enter their projects in the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, according to the contest’s Web site.
Between June and September, judges choose 400 semifinalists from the entries. Then the judges narrow down the semifinalists to 40 and the 40 finalists go to Washington D.C. in October.
The first-place winner will receive a $20,000 scholarship, second-place gets a $10,000 scholarship, third-place gets a $5,000 scholarship and fourth-place receives a $500 scholarship.