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Southern Arizona Research, Science & Engineering Foundation Awards

Member Post: Anna Domitrovic

When we think of March Madness, we think of basketball finals. But for TGMS, it can also mean another year to judge at SARSEF. We’ve always known it as the Southern Arizona Regional Science & Engineering Fair, but that’s not the 501(c)3 non-profit associated with the fair. SciEnTek-12 held that distinction. It was re-named last year and is now the Southern Arizona Research, Science & Engineering Foundation. So now SARSEF can mean two things. And not only does TGMS judge at the Fair, but we are also sponsors who contribute to the Foundation.

Another noticeable change this year was the absence of Jack Johnson, founder and long-time presence during the week-long fair activities. Unfortunately, we lost Jack last year. But his legacy lives on, not only as fond memories, but with the addition of the Jack Johnson Founder’s Scholarship Award, presented for the first time this year during the Awards Ceremonies.

What hasn’t changed is TGMS’s participation in judging and presenting awards. This year’s judges included Janet Reue (back after a year’s sabbatical), returning judge Jim McGlasson and “yours truly.” This year’s winning projects came from the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades.

Caleb Rasor, our 2nd grade winner, looked at cave formations in a bit of a different way. His project, “Stalactites - Caving in Your Own Kitchen”, measured water capillarity using two different threads - cotton and acrylic - and related that to stalactite formation. Caleb goes to Ironwood Elementary and his teacher is Lori Witkowski. 

“Rocks of the Rainbow” got our nod from 4th grader Charles Copenhaver. He questioned whether color in rocks and minerals was related to the elevation at which they were found. He concluded that there was no relation, but the idea was certainly an interesting one. Charles attends Robert Richardson Elementary school and his teacher is Michelle McWilliams.

Fifth grader Audrey Knowlton’s project, “Ready, Set, Drip!” wasn’t just a winner for us. Several other organizations recognized the quality of the work that went into her project. Audrey wondered which grew fastest, stalactites or stalagmites, and assumed it was the latter. Using different mediums in a short period of time, she grew stalactites stalagmites. Audrey is home-schooled by her mother Karen.

Finally, Vail 6th grader Matthew Fosdick, taught by Kelly Johnson, determined that, indeed, “Thar’s Zircons in Them That Hills!” He wanted to prove that the sand in Sabino Canyon came from the Santa Catalina Mountains by examining the minerals in the rocks above to see if they also occurred in the sands below. He tried garnets (sand rubies) first, but couldn’t find enough in the rocks to prove his point. But he found that zircons occurred in both places and could date them with equipment he had access to at the U of A. 


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TGMS President Diane Braswell represented TGMS at the honors ceremony on April 9, where regional professionals and SARSEF judges can mix with student project awardees. It’s always a good feeling to be recognized by an organization we’ve been associated with for at least 40 years. I’ve always encouraged TGMS members to get involved with this worthwhile endeavor and I’ll continue to do it for as long as I am judging team leader. So, why not join us? Look for the addition of SARSEF under Community Outreach on your membership application, and let us know you want to be a part of the Fair next year.