DMS student wins regional science fair

Published 1:35 am Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rachel England, a seventh-grader at Demopolis Middle School, was the overall winner for the Junior Division at the West Alabama Regional Science Fair, held on the campus of the University of West Alabama in Livingston on March 13-14.

The regional science fair was represented by students from a 15-county area. The Junior Division was for participants in sixth through eighth grade.

England’s project was “Oh, My — Plant or Animal: Which Bait Do Oomycetes Prefer?” Oomycetes are single-celled parasites — like water molds — that are aggressive plant pathogens. They can also cause disease in fish.

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“By using several different variables and controls for this experiment, I found that this project taught me a lot about the world of microbiology,” England wrote in her abstract for the project. “I realized that there are several different possibilities and other ways to prove this experiment.

“[Oomycetes] have been responsible for so many deaths of people in our world. Oomycetes have devastating effects on plants and trees such as blights and sudden oak death. They actually help control the mosquito populations. They serve a purpose for decomposition of dead matter throughout the oceans and fresh-water tributaries.”

Along with taking home the overall division winner trophy at the regional science fair, England took first place in the microbiology category, won the U.S. Stockholm water prize and earned “Most Outstanding Project” from the U.S. Air Force.

She will advance to the Alabama Science and Engineering Fair, which takes place on April 2-4 in Huntsville. This fair is also divided into a Junior Division (grades 6-8) and a Senior Division (grades 9-12) and is sponsored by the University of Alabama in Huntsville.