Science = passion, pursuit of truth & knowledge ...

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Citrus County students aim high, score high at 62nd state competition

By Julie Gorham

Citrus County School School District had great success this year at the 62nd State Science and Enginering Fair a few weeks ago in Lakeland.


Out of 20 students who attended, nine of them walked away with awards, with district leaders saying this year yielded highest number of wins in years. The following students won awards for their scientific discoveries and shared their project concepts and thoughts with the Chronicle.

Kelly Laplante

12th grade

Academy of Environmental Science

Fourth place, senior division, engineering

My project:

My project focused on testing different types of vertical axis turbines placed into water pipes to determine which design would produce the most electricity in a manner that is easy to install and maintain. Even though my hypothesis was proved incorrect, through lots of trial and error, I was able to determine that the Savonius drag turbine design would work the best in a standard water system.

With this information that I learned, it would be possible to generate electricity in a manner that is clean, low impact and renewable. 

What does science mean to you? 

Science is not just a “fun hobby” or something I do to pass the time. It is a passion that I take seriously! The work I do for science fair has the potential to make a positive impact on the world. Many scientific discoveries have been discovered on accident; thus, any outcomes when doing science experiments are important, even if nothing turns out as expected.

Winning fourth place in the engineering category at state science fair is an absolute honor and I am very thankful that I placed as well as I did. Being at the state science fair and looking at all the other projects is a humbling experience that really puts into perspective what young scientists are capable of. 


Truman Roland

10th grade 

Citrus High School 

Fourth place, senior microbiology

My project:

My project deals with the growing threat of antibiotic resistance by measuring the effectiveness of antibiotics over time, each with different mechanisms of action. I measured the relative end effectiveness of ciprofloxacin, streptomycin and ampicillin to their original effectiveness. I was able to observe the effectiveness by observing the diameter of the bacteria-free zone formed around antibiotic tablets while on a nutrient agar petri dish swabbed with bacteria, in this case, Escherichia Coli K12.

The goal of this is to determine which classes of antibiotics are most susceptible to becoming resisted or acclimated to by bacteria. This would hopefully allow medical professionals and to a degree, even patients to select certain types of antibiotic medication depending on what they are afflicted with in such a way that could stave off the aforementioned threats.

What does science mean to you? 

Science and this award mean a variety of things to me. First of all, to me, science is the noble pursuit of truth and knowledge for the betterment of mankind and is truly invaluable for humanity, as well as myself. It represents charting the unknown, moving forward in an indifferent universe for the value we see in knowledge and of life, sating a primordial hunger for information and understanding, something only science can truly accomplish.

Science is my passion; it intrigues me, ensnares me with its complexity and ultimately only inspires me further to pursue it. As for this award, it truly is the result of my hard work and genuine fascination, not only that, but the support and devotion of all the people behind me.

The award I received also shows that despite an overwhelming opposition, full of people working with prestigious universities and many resources, even someone without some of those things still has a chance to claim a victory of sort if you truly know what you are talking about, and are willing to undertake the steps necessary to comprehend the science behind your project.


Joshua Brunk 

Seventh grade 

Inverness Middle School 

Fourth place, junior division, environmental engineering

My project: 

My science project was on how to increase the efficiency of solar cells with TEGs (devices that create electricity from a temperature difference). 

What does science mean to you? 

Science to me is important because it holds the answers to our future and studying renewable energy can help solve the energy crisis. This award is important to me because it encourages me to keep working on science projects and motivates me to change the world.

Alisa Luthra

11th grade

Academy of Environmental Science 

Recognition Award, senior division, environmental engineering

My project:

My project was on surveying a culvert near the Academy of Environmental Science to understand its parameters, to see whether it could support river current turbine, which produces microhydropower electricity. 

What does science mean to you? 

I love science, it’s one of my favorite subjects and in the future I hope to work in the field of marine sciences. 

This award proves to me that maybe I could reach that dream, and hopefully at the next State Science Fair, I’ll be able to achieve a higher position. 


Bayley Edwards 

Ninth grade 

Crystal River High School

Special Award ($25 from Lake County Regional Science & Engineering Fair,  senior division, environmental engineering

My project:

My project, titled “Nitrate & Nitrite in Our Waterways,” analyzed water samples from the head springs at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and two other locations on the Homosassa River for these by-products of commercial fertilizer every other day for 30 days.

What does science mean to you?  

Science is important in understanding the world around us so we can protect it for the future and use its resources wisely.  I am proud to have received this award from Lake County Regional Science and Engineering Fair in recognition of my research.

Sierra Creasy

Seventh grade

Lecanto Middle School 

Special Award ($150 from American Society of Civil Engineers, Florida Section), junior division, engineering

My project: 

My science project was on how the shape determines the strength of a tower. I constructed two towers of straws — an octagon and square. I then placed books on top to see which tower was stronger. In conclusion, the octagon was stronger.

What does science mean to you? 

To me, science is important and special because the world of full of science. It’s interesting and full of surprises. This award to me means that hard work pays off because I put a lot of time and effort into this project and I am proud of what I have accomplished. 

Robert Fowler 

Sixth grade

Crystal River Middle School 

Special Award ($25 from Hillsborough Regional Science & Engineering Fair)

My project: 

My experiment was to determine what Florida mammal has the best sense of smell. I tested a panther, bear and fox at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

What does science mean to you?

When I am involved in science it makes me feel like I can freely express myself and ask questions about the natural world. The award is special to me because it shows that someone recognized my contribution to science.”

Two other Citrus County students also earned recognition, but did not comment on their awards.

Raine Leonard of Citrus Springs Middle School won an honorable mention, junior division, in the earth and environmental sciences category.

Elise Leturno of Lecanto Middle School earned a Recognition Award, junior division, in the animal

sciences category.