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Big Springs Regional Science Fair

2680 West County Road 476
Bushnell, Florida  33513

Press Release

From:  Colleen Strickland, Curriculum Supervisor

Date:  February 8, 2019

Subject:  Big Springs Regional Science Fair


The 2019 Big Springs Regional Science Fair brought out the best and brightest middle and high school students to discuss their science research, experimental designs, and interesting conclusions with a host of judges from a variety of professions.  Sumter County students joined the competition with students from Marion and Levy Counties.

Over 70 eager young researchers from South Sumter Middle, South Sumter High, Wildwood Middle High, and The Villages Charter School brought 60 projects to the Circle Square Cultural Center in Ocala on the morning of February 7, 2019.  The projects were placed in thirteen different categories ranging from Behavioral to Intelligent Machines to Engineering to Animal Sciences.  After an intense day of judging, the results proved to be very exciting for Sumter County participants! 

On the evening of Friday, February 8, 2019 science fair participants attended the Awards’ Ceremony at the Marion Technical Institute.  Of the 60 Sumter County projects competing in the 2019 Big Springs Regional Science Fair, 15 projects earned Blue Ribbons.  Sumter earned 10 Red Ribbons between the two categories.  

In addition to place awards, students were judged for special awards.  Many of these came with cash prizes including the coveted Intel Computer Award of $200 which went to Randon Senn of South Sumter High School.   Sumter County students left the fair with over $3,000 in cash prizes and a host of special opportunity awards which allow them to compete in other venues including the Orlando Science Center Challenge.  

Local businesses and agencies were great supporters of Sumter County students.  The Wildwood Rotary Club gave twelve $50 awards to deserving students, while Suncoast Credit Union gave ten $50 awards. 

To reach the next level of competition, the highest scoring projects were judged in a second round.  Based on this finalist judging, a team was selected to compete at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair to be held in Lakeland, Florida.  The 2019 team of 32 projects includes 16 projects representing Sumter County! There were 11 projects from the senior and 5 projects from the junior divisions. 


At the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair, the following Sumter County students will once again present their research, experimental designs, data, and conclusions and be interviewed by a host of professionals: from South Sumter Middle School- Rylee Shirley; from The Villages Charter Middle School- Hannah Kennedy, Litian Zheng, Diana Gegaj, and Sophia Hurt; from the Villages Charter High School-Kaitlyn Taylor, Stephanie Nguyen, Caleb Brock, and Refat Roja; from South Sumter High School-Cheyenne Shirley, Vrinda Patel, Kindle Hon, Chloe Johnson, Taylor Hubbard, Rachael Yacuzzo, Matthew Yates, Makayla Bedgood, Karah Christensen, Taylor Powell, Tyler Higgenbotham.

Sumter County School District affiliates with the International Science and Engineering Fair.  Through the affiliation, the district is eligible to send five projects to compete with more than 1500 students from over 50 countries.  This year’s competition will be held in Phoenix, Arizona in May.  Representing Sumter County are: Cheyenne Shirley, Stephanie Nguyen, Vrinda Patel, and the team of Kaitlyn Taylor, Kindle Hon, Chloe Johnson, Taylor Hubbard and.  Students attending International Science Fair were presented with a generous check from Tom Leonard Memorial Fund.   The checks were presented by Karen Leonard and Cheryl Coco.   Monica Vinas science fair sponsor from the Villages Charter High also received an award from the Tom Leonard Memorial Fund in honor of her dedication to students in their science fair pursuits. 

The guidance, encouragement, and coaching of the adult sponsors at each school as well as parents must also be recognized.  School coordinators this year include Shelly Paulinyce and Michelle Alberto of South Sumter Middle School, Emily Keeler of South Sumter High School, Monica Vinas, Shelbie Wiley and Lauri Siverson of The Villages Charter School and Deanna Squire and Travis Childs of Wildwood Middle High School.  The support from numerous individuals, organizations, and businesses is greatly appreciated.  Whether judging, providing food, doing clerical activities, or donating awards, the support is equally appreciated! 

 PR-1 Science Fair Taylor Hubbard, Chloe Johnson, Kindle Hon, Cheyenne Shirley, Stephanie Nyugen