Science fair opens doors, provides opportunities

Laura Delgado of Cape Girardeau, with Southeast Missouri State University's department of psychology, and Lindsey Lancaster, a freshman at Malden High School, share a moment while discussing Lancaster's project during the 64th annual Southeast Missouri Regional Science Fair on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau. Lancaster said her project deals with analyzing if the color of food affects one's perception of how it tastes.
Jacob Wiegand ~ Southeast Missourian

With 442 projects and more than 700 students representing 43 junior high and high schools, this was the biggest year yet, according to event organizers, for the Southeast Missouri Regional Science Fair.

Dr. Chelsea Grigery, a pediatrician at SoutheastHEALTH and one of the event champions, told the Southeast Missourian the event has grown in student participation by 40% since 2010. She attributed much of it to teacher interest.

"What's most important to me is the senior division," she told the Southeast Missourian. "It matters so much for college applications and scholarships."

Jackson High School students Mallorie Coffee and Elijah Jones, both juniors, along with Hayti High School senior Hannah Davis will take their projects to the international competition in Anaheim, California.

Coffee's entry focused ways to prevent antibiotic resistance. Jones looked at the synthesis of the molecule lindbergin E to fight disease in developing nations.

Davis participated in a pilot program in St. Louis, running "millions of DNA sequences" to find gene therapy options for some diseases. It's currently being peer reviewed at Saint Louis University and may be published.

You can read more about these projects and others in stories by Marybeth Niederkorn available with this editorial on semissourian.com.

Congratulations to Coffee, Jones and Davis. We wish you the best at the international competition. Thanks also to all the students -- and the educators behind them -- for participating. We are firm believers in active learning. These opportunities provide tremendous educational experiences, open doors for college scholarships, and encourage students to consider careers in science.

Classroom instruction is vital, but finding ways to use this education in a real-world application is equally important. Science fairs like the one held in Cape Girardeau can provide this opportunity.