Scientific Passion on Display at Island University Coastal Bend Regional Science Fair

By Luisa Buttler, Joshua Esparza, Sydney Spangler | Published: February 22, 2019

Scientific Passion on Display at Island University Coastal Bend Regional Science Fair

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Tri-fold posters lined table after table as local students showed off their scientific projects tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues – issues like the effect of plastic nurdles to our beaches, and how to best combat tooth damage – to some of its lighter topics, like how to remove slime from a carpet and answering if a lemon can generate electricity.

The Valero Energy Foundation and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Coastal Bend Regional Science Fair was hosted by the Island University on Feb. 16. This year’s theme was “For the Love of Science,” since the event took place close to Valentine’s Day. More than 600 top K-12 science students from around the Coastal Bend displayed their district-winning projects to compete to advance to state, national, and international science fairs.

“Science fairs pull families, schools, and the community together because it is a big group effort,” said Dr. Debra Plowman, assistant professor of math education and director for the Coastal Bend Regional Science Fair.  

Excitement filled the air as students shared their research with family, friends, community members, and of course, the judges.

One of the competing students based his project around creating a solution to power outages caused by extreme weather events. According to Samwell Utley, if you have access to at least half a dozen lemons, you can, at minimum, light up a 1.5-watt lightbulb. Utley used six lemons, galvanized nails, and copper wire to create a circuit that generates electricity. At the end of his project, he found that citric acid found within a lemon acts like a battery.

The science fair was a huge success thanks to the more than 40 different companies who sent volunteers to help, along with the volunteer judges from the community and Island campus.

“Just seeing how much [the students] learn and how creative they are with their materials, understanding the materials, and building upon that has really impressed me,” said Christian Gonzales, an Islander student volunteer and a junior studying microbiology and entrepreneurship. “Every time you come up to a new student, their eyes light up and you can see they’re passionate about science.”

The top three winners in each scientific category in grades 6-12 will move on to the Texas State Science and Engineering Fair, to be held March 29-30 in College Station. The top two projects selected at the Regional Fair in grades 9-12 will advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in May in Phoenix, Arizona. This year's ISEF winners representing the Coastal Bend Region are Ibrahim Al-Akash from Veterans Memorial High School and Adrian Alamillo from Richard King High School.

Click here for a full list of science fair winners.