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Heritage takes on regional, state science fairs

MADISON – After high marks at Heritage Elementary School’s science fair, sixth-grader Punarvi Mandadapu and fifth-graders Madhushalini Balaji and Pari Malhotra qualified to enter the 63rd annual North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s College of Engineering hosted the regional meet in March. The regional fair gave students in grades 5-12 a venue to showcase their independent research to the public and compete scholastically among their peers.

The 389 contestants included 94 high school students, 234 from middle school and 61 from elementary campuses. These students represented 28 public schools and 24 private schools, volunteer Michelle Schmitt said.

“Punarvi’s project was ‘Strong Bridges’ in the Engineering category,” Schmitt said. “Punarvi wanted to find out which truss bridge was strongest. Punarvi found that the warren truss bridge is stronger than a truss bridge.”

Madhushalini or ‘Madhu’ chose to study “How Can Nanotechnology Prevent Hot Car Deaths” in the Earth Environmental Science category. Madhu concluded that an air gel insulator saves lives by acting as an insulator to cars, Schmitt said.

After earning second place at UAH, Madhu claimed third place in the junior division at the 2017 Alabama State Science and Engineering Fair.

Pari’s project, “Rethink Your Drink,” was in the Behavioral category. Pari determined that Gatorade and Coca-Cola are the liquids or drinks that cause the most staining on teeth. She earned third place at regionals and qualified for the state contest.

One judge asked Punarvi if she would consider continuing her research. “Madhu had a judge ask her where she got the idea to do her project,” Schmitt said. Another judge liked Pari’s unique idea and project setup.

From this experience, Punarvi realizes the setup and staging for a regional science fair. Madhu enjoyed the chance to attend both the regional and state fairs. Pari reviewed older students’ projects and learned from that advanced work.

“I’m very proud of the hard work that these girls put into their projects. They asked interesting and thought-provoking questions and were diligent in their research,” Schmitt said. “I’m proud that Heritage’s science teachers have instilled a love of science and a want to find answers to unique and interesting issues.”

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