ASMSA students garner State Science Fair team title, individual awards

7 months ago

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and the Arts won first place overall for the fifth straight year at the Arkansas State Science and Engineering Fair. Five students also earned a trip to this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Liam Johnson, a senior from Pearcy, won third place in the Best in State category and first place in the ISEF qualifying category at the state competition. Johnson finished in fourth place overall at the West Central Regional Science Fair held at ASMSA in February. This year’s state competition was held at the University of Central Arkansas on March 31 and April 1.

The State Science and Engineering Fair qualifies six students for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the largest international pre-college science competition and a program of the Society for Science and the Public. Including Johnson, ASMSA students earned five of the six awards which includes an all-expenses-paid trip to ISEF.

The other ASMSA students who earned ISEF category recognition at the state competition included seniors Joe Sartini of Benton, second place; Taylor Mosely of Conway, fourth place; Rebecca Parham of Alma, fifth place; and Tristan Tompkins of Springdale, sixth place.

Those students will join fellow seniors Martin Boerwinkle of El Dorado, Carson Cato of Bryant and Krishna Patel of Little Rock at the international competition. Boerwinkle, Cato and Patel earned all-expenses-paid trip to ISEF by finishing first through third overall respectively at the West Central Regional Science Fair.

The eight qualifying students for ISEF ties the school’s record for most students in one year. ASMSA sent eight students to ISEF in 2002. This year’s international competition will be held May 14-19 in Los Angeles.

ASMSA students earned 26 individual awards in the State Science and Engineering Fair categories. ASMSA swept the awards for the Computer Science category.

“The ASMSA delegation to the State Science Fair was very strong this year,” said Dr. Brian Monson, ASMSA’s Science Department chair, a physics instructor and director of the West Central Regional Science Fair.

“They brought home more first-place awards than any other school in the state and the trophy for the best performing school. This shows the strength of our research-based curriculum at preparing young scientists and engineers.”

The State Science Fair determines the overall winner based on the number of individual category awards earned by schools. The formula to determine how the overall winner was chosen changed in 2013. ASMSA has won the overall award at each State Science Fair since the change.

Individual category awards included:

First place — Team of Will Duke of Pine Bluff and Nick Nahas of North Little Rock, Animal Science; Rebecca Parham of Alma, Chemistry; Joe Sartini of Benton, Computer Science; Tristan Tompkins of Springdale, Earth Science; Liam Johnson of Pearcy, Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical; Devin Howard of White Hall, Mathematics; Rachel King of Pocahontas, Medicine and Health Science; Taylor Mosley of Conway, Microbiology; and Lilliana Jones of Ferrisburgh, Physics and Astronomy.

Second place — Phillip Bryan of Conway, Computer Science; and Katie Welch of Pearcy, Physics and Astronomy.

Third place — Paige Green of Alma, Behavioral Science; Christy Tran of Little Rock, Cellular and Molecular Biology; Brandon Cox of Bryant, Computer Science; Spencer Hazeslip of Cabot, Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical; Claudia Vestal of Jonesboro, Medicine and Health Science; Caelan Miller of Jonesboro, Microbiology; and Madeleine Leicht of Conway, Plant Science.

Honorable Mentions — Olivia Stone of Jonesboro, Behavioral Science; Diego de los Reyes of Hot Springs, Social Science; Sharon Amole of Little Rock, Cellular and Molecular Biology; Logan Watts of Maumelle, Energy and Transportation; Jason Ly of Jonesboro, Environmental Science; Kenny Duran of Little Rock, Medicine and Health Science; Tenzing Briggs of Jasper, Medicine and Health Science; and Carly Collins of Jonesboro, Plant Science.

Special awards for categories included:

• Nathan Herring of Cabot, Arkansas Engineering Society Best Aeronautical Engineering Project;
• Jason Ly of Jonesboro, American Fisheries Society Best Aquatic Science Project;
• Martin Boerwinkle of El Dorado, first place, and Spencer Hazeslip of Cabot, honorable mention, Acxiom Best Computer Science Project;
• Joe Sartini of Benton, first place, and Phillp Bryan of Conway, second place, Arkansas Computer Science Teacher Association Best Computer Science Award;
• Joe Sartini of Benton, Intel Award for Excellence in Computer Science;
• Team of Will Duke of Pine Bluff and Nick Nahas of North Little Rock, Mark Welch Award for Excellence in Animal Science;
• Devin Howard of White Hall, Mu Alpha Theta Award for Excellence in Math;
• Tristan Tompkins of Springdale, NASA Award for Excellence in Earth Science;
• Rachel King of Pocahontas, Rebecca Parham of Alma; and Tristan Tompkins of Springdale, U.S. Navy awards;
• Team of Alyssa Easterling of Benton and Sam Kalajyan of Cherokee Village, Society for in vitro Biology Best Project In Vitro Biolgy.
• Lilliana Jones of Ferrisburgh, University of Central Arkansas Physics Award;
• Lilliana Jones of Ferrisburgh, Liam Johnson of Pearcy, Devin Howard of White Hall and Joe Sartini, U.S. Air Force awards; and
• Katie Welch, Metric Society award for Best Use of SI units.

Students also competed in the State Junior Academy of Sciences competition. Competitors discussed their project in a short presentation followed by a short question and answer session. Two ASMSA students won overall awards — Joe Sartini of Benton, first place, and Carson Cato, Byrant, third place. Sartini’s prize includes an all-expense-paid trip to present at the 2018 National American Junior Academy of Sciences in February.

State Junior Academy of Sciences winners included:
• Diego de los Reyes of Hot Springs, first place; and Megan Tustison of Carlisle, third place, Behavioral and Social Science;
• Christy Tran of Little Rock, third place, Biochemistry;
• Madeleine Leicht of Conway, first place, Botany;
• Rebecca Parham of Alma, first place, Chemistry;
• Joe Sartini of Benton, first place; Martin Boerwinkle of El Dorado, second place; and Ben Allen of Bella Vista, third place;
• Krishna Patel of Little Rock, first place; and Tristan Tompkins of Springdale, second place, Earth Science;
• Liam Johnson, second place, Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical;
• Carson Cato of Bryant, first place; and Devin Howard, third place, Mathematics;
• Rachel King of Pocahontas, Medicine and Health Science;
• Sharon Amole of Little Rock, first place; Caelan Miller of Jonesboro, second place; and Taylor Mosley of Conway, third place, Microbiology;
•Lilliana Jones of Ferrisburgh, first place; and Katie Welch, second place, Physics;
• Will Duke of Pine Bluff, first place, Zoology.

Two ASMSA teachers were also recognized at the Arkansas State Science and Engineering Fair. Nick Seward, a computer science instructor, received the annual teacher appreciation award given to a relatively new and upcoming teacher who sends students to the state competition.

Monson received the Dennis Thurman Memorial Award for service to the Arkansas State Science and Engineering Fair. The Thurman Award is given to a senior teacher who has been a long supporter of the State Science Fair.

Monson said he was honored to receive the award. “I’ve been active in bringing ASMSA students to the state fair for 15 years. I’ve helped with awards in the past and currently help check the entry forms for errors and rule violations. The State Science Fair board was kind enough to choose me for the Dennis Thurman award as thanks for this support,” he said.

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