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BNL Hosts Virtual Science Fair and Exhibit This Year

174 projects submitted to BNL by elementary school students.

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Photo: Brookhaven National Lab.

Is spaghetti stronger before or after it’s cooked? How can Duckweed provide solutions to local water pollution? What exactly happens when a football is thrown through the air?


These questions and more were posed by elementary school kids in Suffolk County during the 2020 science fair at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) this year. The winners - announced on Friday - include students from schools all over the county.


This year’s science fair took a bit of a different approach because of the pandemic and BNL held the competition virtually.


This year, BNL’s educational program expanded the fair with a new virtual Science Share program. Science Share gave students who could not qualify for the science fair in school during quarantine a chance to advance to the BNL science fair. The program, according to a BNL statement, was created in only a few weeks.


“The projects we've seen are incredible," said Amanda Horn, a Brookhaven Lab educator who coordinated both the science fair and Science Share. "Encouraging the STEM workforce of tomorrow is so important. The last thing we'd ever want to do is turn away students who finished science and engineering projects."


Unlike the science fair, Science Share is a "virtual display"—not a competition. Both Science Share and the science fair were open to students in kindergarten up to the sixth grade.


More than 45 projects from students representing 16 elementary schools submitted to Science Share. Those students will receive digital certificates for participating. Students from 38 elementary schools submitted a total 129 projects for the regular science fair.


"My daughter is so excited and proud of her work,” said Nicole Gaeta. Her daughter, Celia, a first grader at Miller Avenue Elementary School in the Shoreham-Wading River School District, did an experiment to find out whether produce—lettuce and apples, specifically—had less bacteria after being washed. “Her jaw almost hit the ground when I told her that I was in contact with Brookhaven National Laboratory to show her project.”


View the results of the 2020 Science Fair here.