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NEWS RELEASE: State Level Research Competitions Help Shape Young Scientists And Leaders

NEWApril 7, 2017
Jennifer Williams, TIME 4 Real Science
TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools  
Twenty-two Transylvania County TIME 4 Real Science students advanced to two different state level science research competitions on March 24-25 in Raleigh-Durham, where they presented the results of 11 different year-long research projects. The team secured 19 state-level awards and will advance 11 students to the national and/or international level.

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools “My favorite part of the science competitions was being able to explain my project to people with minimal background in the scientific field,” said Sam Ballard, a sophomore from Rosman High School (RHS) and a student scientist in the TIME 4 Real Science Program. “When somebody came` over and asked about my project on their own terms, and then began to understand the science behind it, it made me feel so happy.” Ballard and Brevard High School (BHS) freshman Fritz Ruppert worked this year to levitate small particles using ultrasound.

“I think it is essential to remember that these science competitions are more than just competitions - they are chances for you, the scientist, to share and demonstrate your research; to show the world your accomplishments and your failures,” said Ruppert, reflecting on the competitions. “While receiving awards is nice, this is the most important part.”

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools As part of the North Carolina Student Academy of Science (NCSAS) Competition, students submit an original scientific paper for review by professional scientists and present their work to these scientists and their peers at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Students also have the honor of hearing from a keynote speaker. This year NCSU Professor Dr. Robert Dunn presented “Six keys to making totally new discoveries in biology before you finish high school.”

Research teacher Jennifer Williams said, “NCSAS is my favorite competition. Students get to share their original work and participate in the excitement of a scientific meeting, much like professional scientists do. First place winners also have the opportunity to present at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting alongside scientists from around the world-- a life-changing experience for students passionate about science. This year eight TIME student scientists were selected to present expenses paid at the AAAS meeting in Austin, Texas next year: Aidan Spradlin, Bryce Spradlin, Hannah Lemel, Matthew Bailey, John Nguyen, Sara Megown, Chase Bishop and Alex Eberhardt. Incredible!”

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools At the NCSAS meeting, students have the opportunity to seek leadership roles . This year, BHS sophomore Chase Bishop ran for NCSAS president-elect and defeated seven other candidates from across the state. “It was inspirational to see that people saw me as a leader and voted for me. In football we are told that we are to be the difference, and I hope that I can be that difference not only in the NCSAS but for the world as a scientist,” Bishop said, He will serve for one year as president-elect and then move into the role of president for a year.

When most people think of science competitions, the North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair (NCSEF) comes to mind. For this competition, students prepare a trifold poster that displays their research. Judges view the boards without the students and then ask the students to defend and elaborate on their work. After the judging, the public is invited to interact with the students and their projects. Like NCSAS, NCSEF models a key component of a professional scientific meeting, the poster presentation.

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools Emma Dauster, sophomore, said conducting a research project and preparing for NCSEF, “took a lot of hard work and dedication, but being part of the TIME program means always going the extra mile.” Dauster worked with sophomores Cullen Duval and Kylie Evans to study the attraction of mosquitoes to plant and fungal volatiles and win a Grand Award at this year’s NCSEF. The team will travel to Los Angeles from May 14-19 to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). According to ISEF representatives, “Each year, approximately 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $4 million in prizes.” Duval says “it still hasn’t really sunk in yet!”

Junior A. Spradlin reflected on his experiences during the science competitions, “My group and I had the chance to share our research and contribute to the scientific field. Sharing what we discovered with respected scientists that may use our experiments to stem further research is very fulfilling.” A. Spradlin worked with juniors B. Spradlin and Lemel to design a new, safer method to test for Naegleria fowleri (the brain eating amoeba) in local waters.

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools A. Spradlin added, “As for the competition, I am extremely proud to say that the projects we completed in a small high school lab in Brevard, North Carolina were able to compete with and defeat projects that were conducted in advanced laboratories at Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill.”

The TIME 4 Real Science Program is an intensive, inquiry-based school-day course. Students learn about the process of science as they conduct original scientific research into topics of their own choosing. They are supported by both teacher and scientist mentors as they choose a topic of interest, develop a testable question, design a procedure, collect and analyze data and present their findings.

“TIME is a class that offers students, who like me have a strong interest in science, the ability to really pursue their passion and curiosity in this field. The TIME science program has opened countless doors and led to experiences that have shaped my personal interest in biotechnology, and science in general, so much so that I am currently pursuing a career in this field,” said B. Spradlin.

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools Current TIME students would like to thank all who have helped with their research during the year including students, teachers, administrators, parents, and numerous scientists and community volunteers. Thanks go to 2016-17 TIME volunteers: Brian Byrd, Neill Cagle, Ora Wells, Ann Farrash, Alan Smith, Inga Meadows, Courtney Long, Scott Stevens, Cindy Carpenter, Jeff Hinshaw, Adam Moticak, Ken Chepenik, Don Wauchope, Gordon Riedesel, David Williams, Jay Case, Sam Farrar, Jeremy Gibbs, and Heidi Bullock. Special thanks go to Dr. Kent Wilcox, without whose help, guidance, and actions the class could not have been possible!

The TIME 4 Real Science Program is a partnership between Transylvania County Schools and NC Cooperative Extension. Funding for the students’ trip was provided by generous donations from the Duke Energy Foundation and from TIME alumnus Abby Williams’ 2016-17 community fundraising campaign. Special thanks goes to the campaign donors that helped make this program year possible: George and Elin Abercrombie, Ann Farash and Paul Onnink, Harriett Walls, Donna and Frank Patton, Bruce and Belinda Roberts, Johnny, Elsa and Ben Strickland, Mark and Page Lemel, Pat Montgomery, Jane and Chris Dauster, John and Nancy Strickland, Marion Petterson, Steve and Mary Arnaudin, Jim and Barb Strickland, Ned Steadman, Abby and Erika Williams, Jessica Good, Jodie DuBrueil, Leah Johnson and Dawn Davenport, Kathie and George Williams,Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, Tracie and Daniel Trusler, Kristi Whitworth, Jeremy Gibbs, Frances Bradburn, Mark and Betsy Burrows, Mike Judd, Laura Patch, Mark and Ameran Tooley, Brooke Burrows, Seyl Park and John Burrows.

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools FOR MORE INFORMATION or to indicate an interest in volunteering or donating to the program, please visit our website at or contact Jennifer Williams, BHS Science Instructional Leader and TIME 4 Real Science Co-director, at

Transylvania County State Level Science Awards:

A. Spradlin, B. Spradlin and Lemel: An Evaluation of Local, Thermally Polluted Lakes for the Presence of Naegleria fowleria via PCR Without Hazardous Cultivation: 1st place Biotechnology and AAAS Grand Award (NCSAS); 3rd place Biology B and 2nd place, Water Works Award (NCSEF).

Dauster, Evans and Duval: Olfactometer assays to measure the response of Culex quinquefasciatus to plant and fungal volatiles: 1st place Biology A and ISEF Grand Award (NCSEF); 2nd place Behavioral Science (NCSAS).

John Nguyen and Matthew Bailey: Oligochaete Populations in Transylvania County Trout Streams: A Risk Assessment of Susceptibility to the Whirling Disease Parasite, Myxobolus cerebralis: 1st place Environmental Science and AAAS Grand Award (NCSAS); Western Representative (NCSEF).

TIME 4 Real Science, Transylvania County Schools Bishop and Alex Eberhardt: Feasibility of Cultivating Arthrospira platensis as a Food Source for Mars Exploration and Colonization: 1st place Earth and Space Science and AAAS Grand Award (NCSAS); Western Representative (NCSEF).

Sara Megown: The Antifungal Effect of Plant Extracts on Candida albicans: 1st place Biological Sciences and AAAS Grand Award (NCSAS).

Ruppert and Ballard: Particle Manipulation by an Acoustic Levitator: 3rd place Technology and Engineering (NCSAS); 3rd place Army Award, Engineering, (NCSEF).

Bain Brown and Nicole Rideout: Screening Kudzu Associated Insects and Fungi for Enzymes with Potential Application in Aqueous Oil Extraction: 3rd place Biological Sciences (NCSAS); Western Representative (NCSEF).

Emily Trusler and Elise Poche: Isolation and Identification of Entomopathogenic Fungi for Use in Mosquito Control: 2nd Place Biological Sciences (NCSAS).

Carly Tabor and Lily Harris: Megacopta cribraria Attraction to Plant Volatiles: Western Representative (NCSAS).

Jasmine Gillespie: Toxicity of Nightshade Plants to the Freshwater Clam Corbicula fluminea: Western Representative, (NCSAS).

Caleb Fore: Developing a Cost Effective Solar Array While Capturing Energy for Heating Water: Western Representative (NCSAS).

Photo captions:

1: Twenty-two Transylvania County TIME 4 Real Science students made an impact at two recent state level science competitions. Eleven students advance to national and international competitions.

2: Chase Bishop (left), new president-elect for the NC Student Academy of Science, joins his partner Alex Eberhardt in congratulating another state level NCSAS winner. Chase and Alex studied the potential of using Martian resources to grow Spirulina, a potential source for nutrition in future Martian settlements.

3: Kylie Evans and Cullen Duval test mosquitoes in their homemade olfactometer. The team discovered that carnations are strongly attractive to mosquitoes and a new fungus isolated from kudzu repels them.

4: Elise Poche counts fungal spores using a hemocytometer and contrasting light microscope to prepare a spore concentration for dosing mosquito larvae.

5: Emily Trusler uses DNA analysis to identify entomopathogenic fungi isolated from local soil and tree holes. Trusler and her partner Elise Poche studied the fungi’s potential to control mosquito larvae.

6: Jasmine Gillespie prepares a dose of snuff. Gillespie worked with her partner Noah Graham to evaluate the sublethal toxicity of tobacco on golden clams.

7: Emma Dauster retrieves mosquitoes for testing. She and her partners Kylie Evans and Cullen Duvall will represent North Carolina at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles next month.

8: Sara Megown tests the effect of herbal extracts on Candida albicans, the causative agent of yeast infections. She found that Goldenseal extract inhibits the growth of yeast in a petri dish. She also tested the extract in living wax moth larvae with some promising, if inconclusive results.

9: Matthew Bailey works to analyze DNA from oligochaetes collected from local streams. Bailey worked with partner John Nguyen to assess local susceptibility to whirling disease, a devastating trout pathogen.