Students uncertain about future of 2020’s state science fair

Anvitha Reddy, Staff Writer

After advancing 55 projects to the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair, four Coppell students progressed to the Texas Science and Engineering Fair (TXSEF) hosted by Texas A&M University. 

Coppell juniors Avery Owens, Zeal Pathak, Joshua Chio and Ethan Havemann advanced to the regional fair along with 91 other students after the Coppell Science Fair hosted at CHS9.

Owens competed in the category of cellular and molecular biology, Pathak in systems software while Chio and Havemann competed in plant sciences.

“[Havemann and I] were trying to look at the effect of the martian atmosphere on different plants,” Chio said. “We had a group of plants in earthly conditions and then we put the plants into martian conditions and looked at the chlorophyll absorbance and other factors that showed its health.”

The regional science fair took place in Centennial Hall in Dallas on Feb. 22. Students presented their projects to several experienced judges for each category.

“It was nerve-wracking at first,” Pathak said. “You have to be professional and you have to know your project really well.”

In the afternoon, ribbons were placed on the advancing projects, which were the top three projects in each category. Four Coppell students were greeted with the much-desired ribbon.

“We were really excited to go to [TXSEF]. Of course, we were hoping to make it, but it wasn’t a guarantee so when we saw that we did it was a great feeling,” Chio said.  

Currently, the status of the science fair remains uncertain due to COVID-19. As of March 11, TXSEF announced a plan for a virtual science fair through Zoom, a video conferencing application, between March 25-26. However, later that week TXSEF issued an update stating  its staff is reconvening to determine whether the science fair will occur this year. 

TXSEF will host a digital conference on April 10 to discuss the fate of the state science fair this year. The organization noted  it will not advance any students to the Regeneron International Science Fair regardless of the final plan.

“If it were to happen I’d be really excited because I have been preparing for it,” Pathak said. “It would just be an interesting way to interact with other people in the field and see what kind of improvements you can make.” 

Follow Anvitha (@anvithareddytx) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.