The Middlebrook Gym was a hive of activity at the annual Middlebrook Science and Engineering Fair on Tuesday evening, Jan. 28, as over 120 students presented their science fair projects to a roving audience of students, parents, teachers and judges. Divided between 6th grade and 7th/8th Grade, students’ projects covered life sciences, physical sciences and engineering.

Many of the projects contained elements of social responsibility with water purification, air filter and renewable energy featuring prominently.

Also present were the perennial science fair favorites featuring Mentos and Skittles. Evidence of students mastering coding was also on show at the fair:  6th Grader Polina Popova took her inspiration from living close to the four-way stop at Belden Hill and New Canaan Rds., she wondered what was better, stop signs or traffic lights and used coding in python to figure out the answer (authors note : it depends on how much traffic there is, but Belden Hill should stay as a four way stop, according to Popova).

New this year was a teacher award to recognize a science teacher at Middlebrook who has gone above and beyond to advance students curiosity and encourage them to participate in the science and engineering fair. This year’s winner is Bill DesRoche, science teacher on the 6 Yellow team.

The enthusiasm of the students was clear to see as they clearly articulated the purpose of their projects even when discussed pitfalls, setbacks and dealing with the rigors of the scientific method. The standard of entries was very high. Veteran judge and high school chemistry teacher Stephen Sobolewski said ‘I am blown away by the quality of the work. I have never programmed in my life, and to see 7th and 8th graders program their projects is very impressive’.

The Best in Fair this year was awarded to 8th grade student Anup Pilla with his project ‘Heart Safe’. Anup’s completely original science fair idea was inspired by his desire to save lives by inventing a heart monitor and defibrillator. Anup lost both of his grandfathers to heart disease and is determined to do something to help others.

At the tender age of 13, Anup already feels a calling to medical research. “I want to find a way to cure H.I.V, and if someone beats me to it, I’m going to research mental health and conditions that affect the brain, like autism.”

First, second and third places were awarded in each of the three science categories – engineering, life science and physical science full results are posted below.

The Middlebrook science fair is a collaboration between the Middlebrook PTA and the Wilton Education Foundation. PTA co-chairs this year were Loralee Hamilton and Uma Subramanian. Wilton Education Foundation provided funding for the event. Thanks to the 25 judges who gave their time to judge the event, including 10 AP science students and a number of science teachers from Wilton High School.

Winning entries will be entered into the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair. The state competition will be held in March at Quinnipiac University.

Best in Fair

Anup Pilla:  “Heart Safe”

7 & 8th Grade Winning Entries

Physical Science

1st Place–Arjun Patel and Saaransh Khandelwal:  “Water Purification”
2nd Place–Kendra Ward:  “Hydroelectric Power”
3rd Place–Abby Phelan:  “Commercials vs. The Real World”


1st Place–Zachary Coleman:  “Voice to Hand Written Text”
2nd Place–Dillion Bhutani:  “Self-Watering Plant”
3rd Place–Aarushi Agarwal and Maddie Phelan:  “Solar Power Phone Charger”

Life Science

1st Place–Illeas Paschalidis and Shawn Gregory:  “Fertilizer Fiasco”
2nd Place–Aishwani Walia and Francesca Gusfa:  “Artificial Dye or Organic Dye”
3rd Place–Austin Etzbach:  “The Effect of Pets on Stress and Blood Pressure”

6th Grade Winning Entries

Physical Science

1st Place–Polina Popova:  “Traffic Light or Stop Sign”
2nd Place–Sam Jacobson:  “Golf Ball on a String”
3rd Place–Arista Sullivan and Meredith Sullivan:  “Sympathetic Vibrations”


1st Place–Nikisha Shivram:  “The Helping Hand”
2nd Place–William Olmstead and Paul Zhang:  “POD 3D Engineering”
3rd Place–Gayathri Sarath:  “The Laundry Helper”

Life Science

1st Place–Preethi Vijay and Rose Bilella:  “Disintegrating Aluminum Cans”
2nd Place–Ronan Conway:  “Skittles, Flavored?”
3rd Place–Adeeva Ghuman and Abby Fang:  “Musical Plants, Music’s Impact on Plant Growth”


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