DelVal will host the 2014 Bucks County Science Research Competition

Mar 05, 2014

Isabel Wingert

Isabel Wingert with her 2013 Bucks County Science Research Competition project, "Engineering to Prevent Injuries in Swimming."

More than 200 middle and high school students from across Bucks County will compete in 15 categories at the Bucks County Science Research Competition (BCSRC) on March 11 from noon to 4 p.m. at Delaware Valley College. 

High school seniors who win first place in the biochemistry and chemistry categories will take home full-tuition scholarships to DelVal.

The Heritage Award, an institutional merit-based scholarship worth $32,000 over 4 years ($8,000 annually), will be offered to next-place finishers (2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention) competing in the biochemistry and chemistry categories.

Winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd and honorable mention) of each of the remaining high school level categories, including behavioral and social sciences, botany, computer science, earth and space science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, medicine and health, microbiology, physics, zoology, and team projects, will also qualify for the Heritage Award.

The BCSRC will hold an open house Wednesday, March 12 from 6 to 7 p.m. for members of the public to view the posters and projects (student participants will not be present during the open house). Winners will be announced during an awards ceremony March 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the James Work Gymnasium at Delaware Valley College.

BCSRC is part of the Delaware Valley Science Fairs (DVSF), an affiliated fair for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which encourages intellectual curiosity and creative problem-solving.

“A lot of these kids are really top notch,” said Dr. Ed Sambriski, a DelVal chemistry faculty member who coordinates the judging. “While students tend to work on their science projects in a home setting or at their school, some collaborate with research labs or go to academia to carry out their projects. Groups donate resources and mentor students.”

Students come up with a hypothesis, develop a research plan, carry out experiments, and analyze the results. They present their work through a research paper, a tri-fold poster, and interviews with scientists as well as technologists. Their topics range from the effects of nutrients on plant growth, to self-contained ecosystems, to alternative energy sources, to the use of nanotechnology in designing new materials.

In addition to the scholarships, winners will be competing for cash prizes and special awards. The first-place winner in each category receives a cash prize from the BCSRC. Second- and third-place winners, as well as honorable mentions, receive ribbons. Winners from the BCSRC go on to compete at the Delaware Valley Science Fairs in Oaks, Pa., in April.

DelVal has been part of the event for more than 20 years and awarded two full scholarships at last year’s competition.

Even for students who don’t take home a prize, the event is a valuable educational experience.

“For many students, the BCSRC represents a first-time opportunity where they get to talk with a scientist or a technologist,” said Dr. Sambriski. “They get a lot of on-the-spot mentoring. Even though it is a competition, it’s a chance to develop presentation skills and further their ideas. Some pursue those ideas in college as part of a research program.”