Judging by participants and their projects in this year’s Middlebrook Science and Engineering Fair, which was held Tuesday, Feb. 3, the future looks bright when you imagine the contributions these Wilton students will make to the worlds of science, technology and engineering.

More students than ever were interested in participating in this year’s fair, which was sponsored by the Middlebrook PTA and the Wilton Education Foundation. More than 100 students took part this year, making it the biggest one yet, according to Rocio Fields, a PTA volunteer who organized it with Sujata Vemuri; two years ago there were approximately 35 participants, and last year there were approximately 68 students who entered., making 2016 the biggest so far.

Students begin planning their projects in the fall with a kickoff assembly in November (complete with science experiments demonstrated by organizers on stage) to help create interest and excitement around the fair. They then have about two weeks to submit their entries. In that time, there are help sessions with science teachers to help students come up with topics, with support and resources from the Middlebrook Media Center. In particular, says Vemuri, this year, the 6th grade teachers were very hands on with the students which led to great participation from that grade.

During the show, the students explain their exhibits to guests and judges, who are invited from the Wilton schools (excluding Middlebrook), the community and beyond – professionals who have a science or engineering background. This year there were almost 20 judges (including teachers, doctors, dentists, scientists, pharmacists, engineers) who evaluated the projects based on criteria determined by the CT science and engineering fair committee. Judging occurs within three categories—Life Science, Physical Science and Engineering, and awards are given out separately for 6th graders and 7th-8th graders combined.

Awards are given out for ‘best of fair,’ and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each category. The winners are also awarded cash prizes, sponsored by WEF.

The Winners of this year’s Science and Engineering Fair were:

Best of Show:

Anika Bhagavatula, ‘Banana Peels:  Second Life as Water Purifiers’

Life Science Winners—7th/8th Grade

1st:  Megha Gupta, ‘Plants to Cool the Planet’
2nd:  Trisha Mhatre, ‘The Effect of Fruit Packaging’
3rd:  Emma Babushka, ‘A Bag’s Life: Use and Decomposition’

Life Science Winners—6th Grade

1st:  Bella Andjelkovic and Sydney Reuter, ‘Can Distractions Relieve Pain?’
2nd:  Nathan Meyers, ‘Is Your Toilet Paper Eco-Friendly?’
3rd:  Melanie Rutherford, ‘Grow Light vs. Fluorescent Light’
Honorable Mention:  Samhita Kakarlapudi, ‘Do People See Colors Differently?’
Honorable Mention:  Fiona O’Halloran, ‘A is for Yellow’

Physical Science Winners—7th/8th Grade

1st:  Vignesh Subramanian, ‘Building Fire-Resistant Homes’
2nd:  Ashley Klancko, ‘Watch Me Rise’
3rd:  Neel Iyer, ‘Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions’
Honorable Mention:  Manvitha Mullapudi, ‘Changing The Winds’
Honorable Mention:  Aarushi Dham and Aby Yoon, ‘Hydro-Wind’

Physical Science Winners—6th Grade

1st:  Christopher McCann, ‘Knot or Not’
2nd:  Emily Johnson and Krithika Natarajan, ‘Stronger Stirrer Showdown’
3rd:  Jessica Wu and Maya Mhatre, ‘Does CO2 Cause Global Warming?’
Honorable Mention:  Rhea Raghavan, ‘Electrolytic Fruits’
Honorable Mention:  Avery Newcomer and Abby Kyle, ‘The Magic of Distillation’
Honorable Mention:  Ben Connolly, ‘How Different Substances Absorb Energy’

Engineering Winners—7th/8th Grade

1st:  Nina Ferrucci, ‘Building the Better Battery’
2nd:  Navod Jayawardhane, ‘Will an Elephant Cross This?’
3rd:  Rahul Vallabhajzsula, ‘Charging a cell phone with solar power’
Honorable Mention:  Anusha Cheru, ‘Earthquake Preparedness’
Honorable Mention:  Nate Newcomer, ‘The Power Of Hydraulics’

Engineering Winners—6th Grade

1st:  Dominic Roberts, ‘Bringing Bridges Up’
2nd:  Faizaan Ali and Garrett Moe, ‘What is the Strongest Bridge?’
3rd:  David Cox, ‘What Bridge Designs are Strongest?’
Honorable Mention:  Meiji Sahay, ‘Waste Energy to Usable Energy’

Of the winners at the school level, there are four winners who move on to the state science and engineering fair, as only 7th and 8th graders are eligible to compete at that level. The Best of Fair winner and the 1st place winner in each of the 7th/8th grade categories will now move on.

Pictured above is the “Best of Fair” winner, Anika Bhagavatula. Her project is titled “Banana Peels:  Second Life as Water Purifiers.”