Teaching & Learning

USU Uintah Basin Hosts Middle School Science Fair

By Marcus Jensen |

USU Uintah Basin hosted a middle school science fair on Jan. 25 at the Uintah Conference Center in Vernal. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students from the Uintah School District shared their projects and were awarded prizes. (Credit: Uintah School District/USU)

VERNAL, Utah — Utah State University Uintah Basin hosted more than 150 local middle school students from the Uintah School District (USD) on Jan. 25 for the annual Middle School Science Fair at the Uintah Conference Center in Vernal. USU Uintah Basin personnel judged the projects and presented awards to the top finishers in each age group and category.

“To qualify for statewide science fairs, students are required to have won an award at a local fair,” said Charles Hanifin, associate professor of biology at USU Uintah Basin. “USD really needs USU to be involved so that our local students can qualify to go the statewide fairs and (potentially) to nationals. This fair is a great opportunity to build bridges with local science teachers and have an impact on science education in the Basin.”

Hanifin, along with Shana Geffeney, another associate professor in the biology department, helped organize the fair and coordinate the judging of projects. Judges included local high school students and students from USU Uintah Basin. Many of the judges were former science fair participants who love to engage with young learners.

“My favorite part about science is that anyone can do science,” said Karlee Zager, a human biology major at USU Uintah Basin and one of the fair’s judges. “Science is simply the way the universe learns about itself, and I think the science fair highlights how much potential young minds have in furthering the advancement of scientific knowledge. It was such a privilege to judge the science fair this year, and I hope that I will get to do it again next year.”

One of the USU student judges was Kaylee Jo Huber, an agriculture science major at USU Uintah Basin. Huber participated in and won the local science fair while she was in middle school and placed second in the regional fair. Now, she was able to be on the other side of the fence, enjoying seeing young scientists form their own love of the subject. Huber’s brother, Tyler, was a participant and won first place in the seventh-grade social science category.

“It was amazing to see the kids light up and see their love for science that I still have to this day, and that love has led me to great places and I hope it will continue that way,” Huber said. “Science is what changes the world. The science fair is a great spark for kids to further their understanding and love of science and take it on to college or a career.”

The fair was split into four categories: engineering, biological sciences, physical sciences and social sciences. The top three projects from each grade were awarded prizes. All participants were given commemorative T-shirts. The winners’ awards were provided by USU Uintah Basin, and the Bingham Research Center had a special community award for trailblazing innovation and pioneering research.

The award winners now qualify to participate in the regional Ritchey Science & Engineering Junior Fair, which will be March 14 at Weber State University in Ogden.

USD Junior Science Fair Winners

Engineering: Ryker Madson (6th grade), Claire Davies (7th grade), Cameron DeBerard (8th grade)

Biological Sciences: Kaizley Clegg (6th grade), Easton Brunson (7th grade), Alex Davies (8th grade)

Physical Sciences: Branlon Mortenson (6th grade), Avery Wood (7th grade), Marcus Purcell (8th grade)

Social Sciences: Rory Harrison (6th grade), Tyler Huber (7th grade), Aaliyah Vaughn (8th grade)

Operating campuses in Vernal and Roosevelt for more than 50 years, Utah State University Uintah Basin gives students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university, all in the backdrop of the outdoor oasis that is the Uinta Mountains and Ashley National Forest. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees and more than 125 programs available, as well as access to the renowned Bingham Research Center, USU Uintah Basin offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at uintahbasin.usu.edu.

USU Uintah Basin student Kaylee Jo Huber (right) poses for a photo with brother Tyler Huber. Kaylee Jo was one of the fair's judges, while Tyler was the first-place finisher in the 7th grade social sciences category. (Credit: Uintah School District/USU)


Marcus Jensen
News Coordinator
University Marketing and Communications


Charles Hanifin
Associate Professor


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