DeLaura Middle School wins big at science fair


Members of the DeLaura Middle School Science Research team pose at the Merritt Square Mall where the Brevard Intracoastal Regional Science and Engineering Fair took place last month. DeLaura swept a number of awards. Photo courtesy of Debbie Austin

DeLaura Middle School students really cleaned up at the award ceremony for the Brevard Intracoastal Regional Science and Engineering Fair last month.

In addition to taking first place in eight of 13 junior categories, DeLaura had two students receive the Best in Show award. Eight students were invited to take part in the state competition, nine were invited to take part in the Broadcom Masters and four were selected to show their displays at the Orlando Science Center.

Students also combined to receive roughly $1,000 in awards and, of the 65 children who were part of DeLaura’s Science Research team, 49 of them placed.

“This was our best year by far,” DeLaura science research teacher Debbie Austin said. “We just had an amazing group of kids this year. They were here during winter break and after school. They really stuck
it out.”

Eighth-grader Deegan Tarrillo won Best in Show for the category Intelligent Machines, Robotics and System Software.

As part of a two-year project, Tarrillo used Python software to help new self-driving, or smart cars decide if it was safe to go through an intersection. He developed a program for the traffic light to send a signal to the car, and for the car to decide whether it was safe to go through the light.

“This year, I did it so it wasn’t just one page of program,” Tarrillo said. “It had multiple pages. It had multiple programs running at once for the car, and multiple programs for the light. It was able to do more than one thing, so it can run appropriately and make decisions better on whether it’s safe to go through an intersection.”

Eighth-grader Maggie McMahan won Best in Show in the Cellular Molecular Biology & Biochemistry division.

Her project studied bacteria that causes plaque in the mouth, which is known as Streptococcus mutans. McMahan tested three types of mouthwash — with alcohol, alcohol free and the more natural method of using coconut oil. She also tested to see if any of the mouthwashes modified cheek cell structure,

“I found that mouthwash that contains alcohol is the best method if you are wanting to use it to eradicate plaque, and that coconut oil and alcohol-free mouthwash will actually increase the amount of plaque-causing bacteria that you have in your mouth more than what would normally be there,” McMahan said.

“I also found that the mouthwash with alcohol modified 70 percent of the cheek cells that I tested and the alcohol-free mouthwash modified 50 percent of the cheek cells. The coconut oil wasn’t a very good method, but it didn’t modify any cheek cells.”

McMahan and Tarrillo will both attend Viera High next year. 

Here is a list of the DeLaura Middle School students and where they placed at the science fair, which was held at the Merritt Square Mall last month:

  • Best in Show: Deegan Tarrillo, Intelligent Machines, Robotics and System Software; Maggie McMahan, Cellular Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
  • Junior Animal Sciences: Vincent Bauerle (1st); Ariana Mendoza (2nd); Rylee Gainey (3rd).
  • Junior Behavioral & Social Sciences: Tiffany Matta (1st); Cecilia Diaz (2nd); Reagan Myers (3rd); Kendall Netzley (3rd); Hailey Badders (4th)
  • Junior Biomedical & Health Sciences: Mirabelle Gerts (1st); Derrick Dawkins (3rd); Matthew Guest (4th).
  • Junior Cellular/Molecular Biology & Biochemistry: Maggie McMahan (1st); Hannah Chandler (2nd); Mia Carpenter (3rd); Luke Adams (4th); Stephanie Washburn (4th).
  • Junior Chemistry: Tristen Chang (2nd); Alexa Clark (3rd); Osamah Nafadi (3rd); Alyssa Loui (4th); Daniel Thew (4th).
  • Junior Earth & Environmental Services: Caleb Martin (2nd); Bryce Hattrup (3rd); Hannah Eastburn (4th); Katerina Tkachenko (4th).
  • Junior Engineering: Nicholas Gaug (1st); Bryce Valverde (2nd); Logan Zelaya (4th).
  • Junior Environmental Engineering: Eliana Razzino (1st); Gabriel Crowe (2nd); Walker Wood (3rd).
  • Junior Intelligent Machines, Robotics and Systems Software: Deegan Tarrillo (1st); Ben Batman (3rd); Tyler Matas (4th).
  • Junior Mathematics & Computational Sciences: Evan Karcher (2nd); Payton Brown (3rd).
  • Junior Microbiology: Abigail Ferguson (3rd); Taylor Callaway (3rd); Matthew Lynch (4th); Jake Mosher (4th).
  • Junior Physics & Astronomy: Chase Tarrillo (2nd); Caroline Roslonowski (3rd); Lindsey Houston (4th); Tibor Susanj (4th); Elijah Wilson (4th).
  • Junior Plant Sciences: Maximus Schieman (1st); Alexandra Dougherty (3rd); Hailey Follese (3rd); Jenna Barberi (4th).