Potential scientists, and engineers-in-the-making, were among the 200 young people, who recently filled a community gymnasium in Locust Grove.
The youths were taking part in the annual Henry County Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which determines which top science projects will be represented at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, sponsored the University of Georgia.
"This is the highlight of my year," said Kimberly Emanuel, Henry County Schools' learning and teaching services science coordinator.
Emanuel noted that hundreds of public and private school students, as well as home-schooled pupils, showcased their works in scientific research at the regional fair, held in the gymnasium of the Locust Grove Recreation Center.
The science coordinator said the facility, located at 10 Cleveland St., was provided free of charge through an intergovernmental partnership with the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department. "We felt like it was a great partnership, and we're really excited about them using our facility," remarked Terry Nash, the department's facilities and therapeutic recreation coordinator.
The regional science competition, held Feb. 3, and Feb. 4, included 146 junior division science projects, of the 5,000 eligible middle school projects from around the county. There were 129 senior division science projects from 1500 high school entries.
"I always think it's a wonderful opportunity to see the inquisitive minds of our students, and see their confidence as they stand beside their projects," said Heather Toliver, a junior division judge for the regional science fair.
Toliver was one of 63 judges taking part in the event. She teaches Honors and Advanced Placement Biology at Stockbridge High School, but acknowledges she was not always a fan of science.
"I was always more interested in animals [as a child]," she said. "I never really understood the essence of scientific investigation."
Toliver said she understood years later, and now she teaches the scientific process, and how it can be seen in everyday situations, like "how we choose the clothes we want to wear in the morning. I love helping them understand the scientific process," she added.
Students from around Henry County presented their research, and demonstrated the results of their scientific investigations.
Twelve-year-old participant, Carlo Smith, said he learned that weight distribution on a mini-skateboard could affect its speed down an incline.
The Union Grove Middle School seventh-grader, and his fellow classmates Cord Johnson and Kevin Norton, both 13, said competing on the regional level is an added benefit of their hard work, for their in-class science projects.
Benefits may await the winners of the regional science fair as well, according to Emanuel, Henry's science coordinator.
"The students are able to compete for scholarships and summer opportunities, and they are invited to compete in other competitions," said Emanuel. "Some of them receive prizes and cash awards."
Eighteen projects from the junior division will be announced, and will go on to state competition, she continued. There will be 20 senior division winners selected from Henry County that will compete.