What can get met out of bed at 6 AM on a Saturday? A great number of things could, but in this case it was Ohio’s Annual State Science Day. The event was covered by a story in The Columbus Dispatch. I was one of 28 volunteers who responded to Prof. Gordon Aubrecht’s request for judges for the Outstanding Physics Project Award, which is sponsored by the Ohio Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
We judged only those projects whose performers asked for their projects to be judged for this award, which numbered 156. Of the hundreds of projects displayed on posters in the arena, we saw a range of physics from sound to light to thermodynamics. We also saw a range of quality from the mediocre to those that were very impressive for grade school and high school students.
Prof. Aubrecht divided the judges into two groups. One group judged the tenth through twelfth graders; the other group, of which I was a member, judge the seventh through ninth graders. This was my second year judging at State Science Day, and it was just as difficult this year as the previous time. I could easily eliminate about half of the projects I saw from contention, but selecting the best from the remaining half required careful examination and ranking of excellent projects.
After three rounds of judging and discussion that led to a surprisingly easy consensus, we selected the winners.
- Mr. Keith R. Miller, grade 12, “A more efficient electrostatic precipitator, part two,” Carroll High School, Dayton, Ohio.
- Ms. Angela L. Ou, grade 11, “The effect of metal on the force exerted by an ionic polymer metal composite,” Sylvania Southview High School, Sylvania, Ohio.
- Mr. Leonid A. Shapiro, grade 11, “A modular self-scaling self-supporting electronics cooling system,” Upper Arlington High School, Upper Arlington, Ohio.
- Mr. Ryan J. Patton, grade 8, “Electromagnetic propulsion: the exponential increase of distance vs. voltage,” Immaculate Conception School, Columbus, Ohio. (He meant the quadratic increase, but we think his math teacher would have approved the wording.)
- Mr. Sujit Ganguly, grade 8, “What is the relationship between volume and pressure of air?,” Fairfield Middle School, Fairfield, Ohio.
- Mr. Benjamin M. Pifher, grade 7, “Which type of airfoil flies the best under certain conditions?,” Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Grove City, Ohio.