Local students grab science fair honors

It’s been quite a week for Buchholz High School junior Jeffrey Xue. Only days after the School Board of Alachua County recognized him as one of the top STEM students in the state, Xue earned top honors in the first-ever virtual Alachua Region Science and Engineering Fair.

Xue will now go on to represent the district in the International Science and Engineering Fair, which the Society for Science will hold in May.

Xue’s project, entitled “College Football Playoff Expansion: A Statistical Analysis via Monte Carlo Simulation,” was also recognized as the Best in Show in the senior (high school) division in the Physical Sciences category.

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In the senior division’s Biological Sciences category, Buchholz High School junior Aditi Shukla earned Best of Show honors with her project, “Precision Targeting and Brain Stimulation for Treating Depression.”

In the junior (middle school) division, the Best in Show winners included Westwood Middle School 6th-grader River Ernest-White for a Biological Sciences project called “How Does Temperature Affect the Survival Rate of Tardigrades?” and fellow Westwood 6th-grader Gloria Milosevic for her physical sciences project called “How Does the Type of Flour Added into Banana Bread Affect Its Bake Time?”

Xue, Shukla, Ernest-White and Milosevic are among the 30 Alachua County students who have now qualified for the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair, which will take place March 30 through April 2. Due to COVID-19, organizers are holding the state fair virtually, as was the Alachua Region Fair. Xue, Shukla and Milosevic also earned special prizes from outside organizations for their work.

Xue was recently named Alachua County’s Sunshine State Scholar for 2021. He is among 100 high school juniors in Florida recognized this year for their outstanding achievement in the STEM field.

The awards video for this year’s fair is available on YouTube.

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