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Middle schoolers to compete in science fair

BUFORD - More than 85 middle schoolers are competing today in the second annual Regional Junior Division Science and Engineering Fair at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center.

The work of students from Berkmar Middle, Duluth Middle, Lanier Middle, J.E. Richards Middle, Shiloh Middle, Trickum Middle and Notre Dame Academy will be judged by local professionals and scientists, officials said. The student-researched projects will be scored on scientific quality, accuracy, creativity and experimental design.

The fair will open to the public at 2 p.m., and an awards ceremony will take place from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., said Monica Johnson, the spokeswoman for Notre Dame Academy. The top 10 scoring students will advance to the state competition, which will take place April 2 to 5 at the Athens Classic Center.

Notre Dame Academy, an independent Catholic school, started the middle school science fair last year after the school's science coordinator found out there wasn't a regional competition in Gwinnett, Johnson said.

Participation in the middle school science fair has increased this year, and more of the county's middle schools are holding local fairs, said Mary Elizabeth Davis, Gwinnett County Public Schools' director of science.

The fair encourages students because they are engaging in research that produces results and that will serve as a foundation when they are in high school, Davis said.

While many schools have a history of participating in informal fairs, this formal events is increasing enthusiasm in the county, Davis said.

"The fair has definitely met an interest in the county," she said. "We really are advancing to the next level and giving students the opportunity to participate at the state competition."