By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – Allie Garrabrant, a sixth grader at the Eugene A. Tighe Middle School, took first place in the Behavior and Social Science category at the 48th annual Jersey Shore Science Fair held at Stockton University in Galloway Township Saturday, March 18. Allie qualified to enter the science fair after winning second place at her middle school’s science fair on Feb. 28. First and second place winners were eligible to compete in the regional competition.
Her project included extensive data that proved her hypothesis about a perceived bias involving age and race. She surveyed 102 people in 306 trials to obtain feedback from participants who viewed facial expressions on a computer screen. The results proved that her hypothesis was correct – age and race of the subject would evoke a biased response from participants.
Although she thought she would be nervous presenting her project, Allie said she was confident during the judging.
“The judges thought it was a cool project and I was able to answer all their questions,” she said.
The Stockton Science Fair winners were announced in reverse order, with honorable mentions first, then second and first place winners. When her name was not called for second place, she didn’t think she had a chance to win.
“But when they called my name for first place, I gasped and ran down. I was so surprised to hear it was me,” she said.
The judges were impressed that although she did not cite any peer reviewed articles for her project, she did provide all the citations required for her work. Her display board was neatly presented with information and graphs, and her supporting documents were contained in a 3-inch thick binder.
Allie’s mom, Jessica Garrabrant, and her science teacher, Chelsi Crompton, confirmed that Allie is one of only two students from the Tighe School to ever win a blue ribbon at the Stockton fair.
The other student was Allie’s brother, Chris, who is now a sophomore at Ocean City High School.
“To have two winners from our family is very exciting,” Jessica Garrabrant said.
“Allie has hard-working parents, which set the bar for her to excel,” Crompton said. “She wasn’t going to let her brother show her up.”
Allie is now eligible, along with other students who placed first or second at Stockton, to compete against students from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware in the Delaware Valley Science Fair being held April 4-6 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. More than 1,000 students in sixth through 12th grades will compete in 13 categories, vying for nearly $6 million in scholarships and prize money.
“She should do very well at the Delaware Valley competition,” Crompton said.
If she wins in Pennsylvania, she would move on to the national competition in Dallas, Texas.
Crompton said four Tighe students participated in the Stockton fair. Although student Zoe Lieberman was the fifth student to qualify, she was unable to attend.
“I was very happy with our students’ work,” Crompton said. “This year was comparable to other years. We usually send five and hope for at least three to place.”
Jonathan Lowery, who won first place in the Tighe School fair, took third place in the Physics category for his project that determined if weight affects how fast skis can move down an incline. Allie’s classmate Nellie Schwegman received honorable mention for her project in the Medical Sciences category that measured which exercises have the greatest effect on heart rate. The fourth student to attend the Stockton fair was Jack Voight, who studied how the weight of a golf ball effects distance.
Jessica Garrabrant said the family is looking forward to a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for her daughter to compete on a regional level. The three-day event may require an overnight stay at a nearby hotel. The first day of competition is to set up the projects, the second day includes 11 hours of competition – “it’s a long day,” Allie said – and on the third day, the winners are announced.
According to its website, the Delaware Valley Science Fair believes that students learn how to solve problems and develop critical thinking skills by doing science projects, which prepares them for college, careers and citizenship.
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