Page 18,The Institute Report,April 2013
VMI Host for High School Science Fair
On Saturday, April 6, the floor of
Cameron Hall was filled with almost
300 of Virginia’s most eager young
scientists as VMI was host for the
28th annual Virginia State Science
and Engineering Fair. The event will
be held at VMI through 2015.
This year’s event attracted
approximately 240 projects
developed by students in grades
nine through 12 attending public
and private schools from across
the state, said Cmdr. Dan Joseph
’91, associate professor of applied
mathematics and director of the
fair. Each of the projects was a
winner at one of 12 regional fairs
across the state.
The top three projects identified
at the state level are now going on to the Intel International Science and
Engineering Fair, to be held May 12-17 in Phoenix, Ariz. This year’s top
winner, Andrea Li of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and
Technology in Alexandria, Va., received the governor’s award and grand
prize, presented by Virginia Secretary of Technology Jim Duffy. Li, who
also received a $1,500 cash award, titled her project, “IFN in Breast
Cancer and Leukemia Cell Proliferation.”
“The fair went very, very well,” said Joseph, who will direct the event
for the next two years. “I give the Center for Leadership and Ethics all
of the credit for that. They did a fantastic job.” Joseph said that he’d had
many people tell him during the fair that this was the most organized
state science fair they’d ever been to.
This year’s projects were divided into 17 categories spanning a broad
spectrum of sub-disciplines in the natural sciences, technology, and
mathematics. Among the categories were animal sciences, biochemistry,
computer science, energy and transportation, mathematical sciences,
medical and health sciences, physics and astronomy, and plant sciences.
Many of the projects drew onlookers in with thought-provoking titles,
such as “Can we use snails to
repair ligaments?” and “Curing
cancer with tea.”
Evaluation of such a wide array
of projects took more 90 judges,
13 of whom were VMI faculty
members. Each judge spent
time talking to the students and
attempting to gauge both the depth
of their knowledge and their ability
to explain complex concepts.
“This was my first exposure
to a high school science fair,
and I found that the projects
were more sophisticated than
I expected,” said Capt. Robert
“Bob” McMasters, who teaches
mechanical engineering at VMI and
judged exhibits in that category at
the fair. McMasters added that the students presented themselves very
professionally and seem very well prepared for college-level work.
Capt. John E. “Ned” Riester ’78, professor of civil and environmental
engineering, also said that he was impressed by the quality of the exhibits.
Riester, who judged in the energy and transportation category, said that
he was surprised by the number of students who had access to college
labs – and there was one pair of students who’d gotten help from a
faculty member at UCLA. “They had some good people helping them
out,” he noted. “[The fair] was very well done, very well put together,”
For VMI, hosting the science fair is part of an ongoing effort to
emphasize study of the STEM disciplines – science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics. “We believe STEM education is very
important for the future of the nation and our state,” said Joseph. “The
superintendent has given a great deal of support to STEM education.
… This is one more effort we’re making to improve the state of STEM
VMI Football Opens Spring Practice
The VMI football team commenced spring drills April 3 with the first
of 14 workouts scheduled throughout the month, putting on the pads
for the first time April 10 after two practices in shorts.
The drills will feature two scrimmages on Saturdays – April 20 and
The first Saturday scrimmage will be held in Roanoke, Va., at William
Fleming High School as part of VMI Day sponsored in part by the
Williamson Road Area Business Association, the Roanoke Chapter of
the VMI Alumni Association, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
VMI Day activities will begin at 10 a.m., with the scrimmage portion of
the Roanoke event following at noon until 2 p.m.
The Keydets will conduct their final spring scrimmage back in
Lexington the following Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Foster Stadium.
VMI head coach Sparky Woods is looking forward to the scrimmage
in Roanoke – the first time a Keydet football team has held a spring
practice away from the VMI post.
“Our team is very excited to be able to bring our practice to Roanoke,”
said Woods. “It is a great opportunity to mix and show our appreciation
to our loyal Keydet supporters in the beautiful Roanoke Valley. Roanoke
is our closest city and our alumni are very loyal. We certainly want to
thank William Fleming High School, WRABA, all the sponsors, the fine
people and businesses of Roanoke for making this day happen.”
Spring drills will conclude with a practice on Monday, April 29.
For more information on VMI Day in Roanoke, contact Wendy Jones
The first of three annual state science fairs was held in Cameron
Hall April 6.
– VMI Photo by H. Lockwood McLaughlin.