Emma Pittman and Natalie Mays, a pair of seventh-graders at Russell Middle School, have been announced as the Gold Medal recipients for the Barrow County School System’s 2021 science and engineering fair.

Both students advanced to compete in the Northeast Georgia Regional Fair, set for Saturday, Jan. 30.

The top projects from each regional fair are invited to attend and compete at the state fair. The 73rd Georgia Science & Engineering Fair will take place this spring. A select number of projects will be chosen to advance to the International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF), which will take place virtually in May.

The district fair was conducted virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and students were encouraged to think “outside the lab” when approaching their research, district leaders said, adding that the students conducted their research from home.

Pitman's experiment explored whether or not we perceive a food’s taste as a certain flavor based on its color. Mays’ project investigated how glow stick longevity was impacted by temperature.

"In this challenging school year, these ladies alone have met all the deadlines and expectations to research, design, execute, and properly document competition-worthy science fair projects,” said Lee Bane, director of innovation for Barrow County schools. “This has been a very long-term process that both Natalie and Emma have independently taken responsibility for with commendable levels of dedication and persistence."

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