The 55th annual East Texas Regional Science Fair was held in the Devall Student Center Ballroom on the Kilgore College campus Friday morning and dozens of projects, from hydraulic to biological, were presented.

A total of 162 students from 23 elementary, junior and senior high schools in East Texas displayed their projects, according to a Kilgore College press release. Students who won top prizes in local science fairs were invited to attend the regional event.

Instructor Paul Buchanan welcomed students to the event.

“Welcome to the 2019 Science Fair. We're excited to have you guys here at Kilgore College. I'll be coming around to check you all in but the judges will also be coming around, Buchanan said.

Students presented their projects to judges and were also interviewed by KC students. Buchanan invited students to tour the East Texas Oil Museum, the Rangerette Museum and to view videos about space and planetary science in the SL Canterbury, Jr. Engineering and Science Building when judging was complete.

Students hurriedly set up their projects for display, ranging from studies on the effectiveness of different soaps to the impact invasive weeds have on aquatic habitats.

Sixth-grader Lucas Cox from Prairiland Junior High in Pattonville carefully assembled the pieces of his project “Creating Motion In An Electrical Field.

“I've been working on it for about a year, Cox said, adding that he was excited to finally come to the science fair to display his project, which included a battery-powered metal coil magnet surrounding a toy car on a stretch of road. The goal of his creation was to demonstrate the link between electricity and magnetism in the transportation industry.

Eighth-grader Mary Leak from Foster Middle School in Longview demonstrated her movable hydraulic arm, controlled by depressing fluid-filled syringes.

“I was looking for something similar to a prosthetic or introduction to machinery because I'm going into architecture and engineering, she said, describing her “Homemade Hydraulics project.

“I'm often around hydraulic things so I was thinking maybe there could be an inexpensive way to create something that would move. So I looked up hydraulics and when I found the hydraulic arm, I thought this would be one. So, taking inspiration from machines my dad has, I made a hydraulic arm that can lift and move things.

Leak demonstrated the capabilities of her project by depressing several syringes, which used hydraulic pressure to rotate and move the arm.

“I was asked to think more inside the box for science fair projects this year so I made my project out of the box, she said with a laugh.

Leak, who has been to district competition twice before with her science projects but made it regionals for the first time this year, said the arm took several hours to construct after extensive planning and research.

Lufkin High School senior Alishbah Khan designed her project to propose a solution a major worldwide problem: diminishing fossil fuel reserves and high gas prices.

“My project is basically trying to find a sustainable alternative energy source, Khan said. “This is basically taking products that we have available, such as food byproducts, and fermenting and distilling them into alternative energy, in alcohol.

Khan displayed a distillation device to illustrate how common items could be processed into fuel alcohol, which could then be used to power machines.

“An example that I had a test run on to see what proof of alcohol you would need to make a machine work was a little, small steam engine. You would burn the alcohol in the piston and it would light up four LED lights, she said.

She said she came up with the idea by approaching problems of fossil fuels in a holistic way because it's an issue with environmental, political and humanitarian implications.

“I was thinking about how, in the news every day, we have an oil crisis and gas prices and things, and also about the effects of what we do to get fossil fuels. I was thinking ‘how can we just make our own' instead of using up a limited resource.

According to KC, finalists in both the junior and senior divisions will advance to the state Texas Science and Engineering Fair in College Station (grades 6-12).

The science fair's overall winner in the senior division (grades 9-12) will advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, Ariz., May 12-17.

Kilgore News Herald

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