They were among the top young scientists in the region that competed in SEFH 2018.

It Takes a Village — Student Aimee Mahindaratne (holding award) takes a moment after regionals to pose with her support team. Pictured are her grandmother who is a teacher, her mom, science teacher Tara Wodzicki, skills specialist Clara Garza, and science teacher Stephanie Clarke-Brooks.

More than 1,000 students competed in the 59th Science Engineering Fair of Houston (SEFH) at the University of Houston-Main Campus in February. The awards ceremony took place March 3 at UH.

The fair, one of the largest competitive science engineering fairs in the nation, gives students in seventh through 12th grades a chance to present their research – in addition to the science project competition, the fair also sponsors contests in science and engineering writing and for technical poster design – as well as to meet people from a variety of scientific fields.


Aimee Mahindaratne with her winning project at the District Science Fair.

Each year, hundreds of industry professionals serve as judges, giving the students a chance to ask questions and learn from them and other event volunteers.

Winners will go on to the Texas State Engineering Science Fair in San Antonio at the Henry B. González Convention Center March 23 and 24. Grand award winners are eligible for the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held in Pittsburgh (PA) in May.

SEFH serves as the regional fair for all public, private, charter and home school middle and high school students in Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery and 20 additional counties throughout Southeast Texas.


Shayla Thomas with her winning project at the District Science Fair.

A total of 69 AISD middle and high school students competed in the SEFH. Two AISD middle school students — Aimee Mahindaratne and Shayla Thomas — advanced to the state contest. Three middle and high school students — Tahimad Bhuiyan, Miguel Chacon and Dorian Dovai — did not advance. However, the students did receive special awards for their work and achievement.

This year, two AISD middle school students received the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) Nominee Award. The Broadcom MASTERS is the premier science and engineering competition for middle school students.

Society affiliated science fairs around the country nominate the top 10 percent of 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade participants to enter this prestigious competition. After submitting the online application, 300 top projects are selected and 30 finalists present their research projects and compete in team hands-on STEM challenges to demonstrate their skills in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. 

L’Tunya C. Bernard and Xandra Williams-Earlie are proud of the AISD students. They view the science fairs as an early means to inspire young people to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. Bernard and Williams-Earlie are directors of middle and high school science, respectively.

Increasing the number of people trained to hold STEM jobs is a key priority for the National Science Foundation,” Williams-Earlie said. “The Science Engineering Fair of Houston gives students a chance to interact with professionals in various STEM fields. That opportunity has been shown to increase young peoples interest in STEM careers.”

The students that take part in science fairs realize the dream to pursue STEM is attainable,” Bernard said. “They discover that there is someone here to guide them.”

2 Regional Winners Advancing to State

2nd Place — Shayla Thomas
Broadcom MASTERS Nominee Award*
Project: An Uplifting Project
Category: Physics & Astronomy
Division: Junior
Teacher: Sharonda Brown
Campus: Hoffman Middle School [International Baccalaureate (IB®) World School offers the Middle Years Program]

2nd Place — Aimee Mahindaratne
Broadcom MASTERS Nominee Award*
Project: Leaves Have Pores Too
Category: Plant Sciences
Division: Junior
Teacher: Sara Wodzicki
Campus: Hambrick Middle School

3 Special Award Recipients


Tahimad Bhuiyan poses after regionals with his award in hand.

Student: Tahimad Bhuiyan
Special Award: Indian Society of Engineers and $100 gift card
Project: The Adaptable Generator to Provide Electricity
Category: Engineering — Electrical/Mechanical/Civil
Campus: Shotwell Middle School [International Baccalaureate (IB®) World School offers the Middle Years Program]

Student: Miguel Chacón
Special Award: STEM Award from the University of Houston-Main Campus
Project: How Clean Is Your Water?
Category: Chemistry
Teacher: Sheena Nichols
Campus: Aldine Ninth Grade Center

Student: Dorian Dovai
Special Award: Research Assistant Program Finalist from Houston Museum of Natural Science. He is one of the 20 finalists all over Houston to receive this award. As a finalist, he will be a paid research assistant at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences for 130 hours in the summer in their various programs.
Special Awards: JACOBS Science Explorer Award from the Johnson Space Center Engineering, Technology and Science (JETS) Contract Group
Title: The Search of Student (aka The SoS)
Category: Computer Science
Teacher: Remelia Arpino
Campus: Eisenhower High School [International Baccalaureate (IB®) World School offers the Diploma Program]

(Information provided by program directors.)

Congratulations! And Good Luck at the state competition!

Below are images taken at the 2018 Texas Science and Engineering Fair.