Carly Smith science fair

Carly Smith won the Spectroscopy Award at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

A Rocky Mount high school student recently won an international science award for her chemistry project after receiving all-expenses -paid trip to a competition held in Pittsburgh.

Carly Smith, 17, participated in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair after she placed first at both the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology’s annual Project Forum and Western Virginia Regional Science Fair earlier this year.

According to its website, ISEF “unites the top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral-level scientists review and judge their work.”

About 1,800 students from more than 75 different countries compete in the fair annually. About $5 million in prizes are awarded.

Smith won the Spectroscopy Award and $750 for her project, titled “The Effect of Natural Chitosan on the Removal of Azo Dyes from Water.” The project examined the absorbance of dyes in water and how they can be removed.

To measure the level of dyes in water, she used a spectrophotometer, a tool that measures the intensity of light that is being transmitted or emitted by particular substances.

The competition was presided over by 15 judges – 10 more than the high school junior said she was used to facing.

“It was nothing like anything before,” she said.

The fair was broken down into different fields of science. Smith showcased her project in the chemistry category, along with about 70 other students.

The competition lasted seven hours, with judges approaching the competitors at different points. Smith had to give a two-minute oral presentation on her research to each of them, and answer questions.

“Judging was really comfortable,” she said. “It didn’t feel like I was being judged at times, but then at other times I thought, ‘these are the professionals in their fields.’”

The week was filled with events and socials for the students. Smith said her favorite event was the Science Conference Center where the students got to work in virtual reality simulators, robotics and other interactive mediums.

Smith represented the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School with a fellow student, Logan Dunkenberger of Roanoke, who won first place and best in the microbiology category for her project “The Novel Use of Phenolic Compounds for Epstein-Barr Virus Lytic Induction.”

On the day Smith was presenting her project, she said she was “kind of intimidated and nervous,” but kept thinking to herself, ‘well I’ve got Logan, and we’re good friends.’”

She said she didn’t care about winning, but was just excited to make it to the fair. She was also inspired by others students’ projects and how their research might impact the world.

“The theme of the competition was ‘Think Beyond,’ and you really did feel that at the end,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet, inspiring moment because a lot of these project fairs, you do the project and then you move on to something else. But a lot of the projects were being introduced to businesses and being applied to the real world.”

For her project next year, she wants to expand the work she’s done with dyes. But Smith said she won’t mind if she doesn’t make it back to ISEF. She wants to see others experience it, too.

“If I don’t make it back next year it’s not going to be the end of the world, I won’t feel crushed or anything,” she said. “I want to be really supportive of whoever goes next year.”

She added that the experience “did wonders to my personal character and personal validation.”

Cindy Bohland, a biology teacher at the Governor’s School said Smith has a natural curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning.

“She’s fantastic,” Bohland said. “She’s always excited about learning. She’s always interested, asking questions and always bringing something to the conversation. When Carly isn’t in class, it’s a little quiet and sad.”

One of the experiences Smith has thought about since returning from Pittsburgh was meeting a homeless man after a social event one night.

“We took the initiative to give him money, so he can take care of himself and his dog. But then we ended up staying and listening to his story,” she said. “It was such a down-to-earth moment; it was not something I expected to experience there. I’ve thought about that every day since.”

In the future, Smith said wants to study linguistics and foreign relations and has a list of universities she’s exploring for her education.

She said she never thought she’d make it to ISEF; it didn’t feel real even when she got there.

“Being there and seeing all kinds of people was just that feeling of self-validation of, ‘I am hardworking; I do deserve to be here; I know what I’m talking about; I have this place in the world,” she said. “I felt very comfortable with myself and where I’m going in the future.”

A Rocky Mount high school student recently won an international science award for her chemistry project after receiving all-expenses -paid trip to a competition held in Pittsburgh.

Carly Smith, 17, participated in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair after she placed first at both the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology’s annual Project Forum and Western Virginia Regional Science Fair earlier this year.

According to its website, ISEF “unites the top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral-level scientists review and judge their work.”

About 1,800 students from more than 75 different countries compete in the fair annually. About $5 million in prizes are awarded.

Smith won the Spectroscopy Award and $750 for her project, titled “The Effect of Natural Chitosan on the Removal of Azo Dyes from Water.” The project examined the absorbance of dyes in water and how they can be removed.

To measure the level of dyes in water, she used a spectrophotometer, a tool that measures the intensity of light that is being transmitted or emitted by particular substances.

The competition was presided over by 15 judges – 10 more than the high school junior said she was used to facing.

“It was nothing like anything before,” she said.

The fair was broken down into different fields of science.  Smith showcased her project in the chemistry category, along with about 70 other students.

The competition lasted seven hours, with judges approaching the competitors at different points. Smith had to give a two-minute oral presentation on her research to each of them, and answer questions.

“Judging was really comfortable,” she said. “It didn’t feel like I was being judged at times, but then at other times I thought, ‘these are the professionals in their fields.’”

The week was filled with events and socials for the students. Smith said her favorite event was the Science Conference Center where the students got to work in virtual reality simulators, robotics and other interactive mediums.

Smith represented the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School with a fellow student, Logan Dunkenberger of Roanoke, who won first place and best in the microbiology category for her project “The Novel Use of Phenolic Compounds for Epstein-Barr Virus Lytic Induction.”

On the day Smith was presenting her project, she said she was “kind of intimidated and nervous,” but kept thinking to herself, ‘well I’ve got Logan, and we’re good friends.’”

She said she didn’t care about winning, but was just excited to make it to the fair. She was also inspired by others students’ projects and how their research might impact the world.

“The theme of the competition was ‘Think Beyond,’ and you really did feel that at the end,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet, inspiring moment because a lot of these project fairs, you do the project and then you move on to something else. But a lot of the projects were being introduced to businesses and being applied to the real world.”

For her project next year, she wants to expand the work she’s done with dyes. But Smith said she won’t mind if she doesn’t make it back to ISEF. She wants to see others experience it, too.

“If I don’t make it back next year it’s not going to be the end of the world, I won’t feel crushed or anything,” she said. “I want to be really supportive of whoever goes next year.”

She added that the experience “did wonders to my personal character and personal validation.”

Cindy Bohland, a biology teacher at the Governor’s School said Smith has a natural curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning.

“She’s fantastic,” Bohland said. “She’s always excited about learning. She’s always interested, asking questions and always bringing something to the conversation. When Carly isn’t in class, it’s a little quiet and sad.”

One of the experiences Smith has thought about since returning from Pittsburgh was meeting a homeless man after a social event one night.

“We took the initiative to give him money, so he can take care of himself and his dog. But then we ended up staying and listening to his story,” she said. “It was such a down-to-earth moment; it was not something I expected to experience there. I’ve thought about that every day since.”

In the future, Smith said wants to study linguistics and foreign relations and has a list of universities she’s exploring for her education.

She said she never thought she’d make it to ISEF; it didn’t feel real even when she got there.

“Being there and seeing all kinds of people was just that feeling of self-validation of, ‘I am hardworking; I do deserve to be here; I know what I’m talking about; I have this place in the world,” she said. “I felt very comfortable with myself and where I’m going in the future.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.