NORTH ADAMS, MASS. – Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will host the Annual Massachusetts Region 1 Middle School Science and Engineering Fair from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, in the campus’s Amsler Campus Center gymnasium.

The event is free and open to the public from 1 to 2 p.m. This year’s keynote speaker will be Tom Tyning, a professor in the Environmental Science Department at Berkshire Community College (BCC). He is a naturalist with a passion for snakes, and will speak to students at 1:45 p.m., in the Amsler Campus Center gym.

More than 125 middle school students from Brayton Elementary School, Colegrove Elementary School and Greylock Elementary School in North Adams; BART Charter School in Adams; Gabriel Abbott Memorial School in Florida; Hoosac Valley Middle School in Cheshire; Reid Middle School in Pittsfield; St. Agnes Academy in Dalton; Hopkins Academy in Hadley; Michael E. Smith School in South Hadley; and Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton will participate.

More than 40 judges will assess their projects in the areas of biology, behavioral and social science, chemistry, computer science, earth and space science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics and physics. 

According to Barbara Kotelnicki, co-director of the Fair and MCLA’s STEM program manager, this annual fair helps to ignite curiosity and encourage the youth in Western Massachusetts to ask questions, search for answers, and work to solve everyday problems.

“This special event allows us to highlight this work and share these middle school students' accomplishments. The top 40 projects will be promoted to the state fair to compete with students from across Massachusetts. We are thrilled to be able to host this exciting fair for the 11th year on our campus at MCLA,” Kotelnicki said.

Kotelnicki co-directs the Fair with Jennifer LaForest, a chemistry teacher at Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield.

Tyning produced a weekly nature column for the Springfield newspaper, write “A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles” in the Stokes Nature Guide Series, and previously taught at Springfield College and Antioch Graduate School. He later moved to a position as a master naturalist with the Massachusetts Audobon Society. He also led tours to Peru, Ecuador and other South, Central and North American locations.

Tyning attended UMASS-Amherst, where he earned a graduate degree in organismic and evolutionary biology. His thesis concentrated on timber rattlesnakes in western Massachusetts. He has taught at BCC since 1999.

The students’ projects will be judged on several criteria, including scientific approach, innovation and creativity and presentation. Forty finalists will be selected to advance to the 2017 Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair – Middle School Division, to be held on Saturday, June 3, at Worcester Technical High School. There, they will have an opportunity to advance to the Broadcom Masters Competition.

The Region 1 Science and Engineering Fair is a program of the Berkshire STEM Pipeline.

For more information, contact Kotelnicki at or Jennifer LaForest at

The goal of the Pipeline is to build a connection between higher education, local schoolchildren in grades K-12, businesses and non-profit agencies, and to see that all students are educated in STEM fields. The Pipeline also aims to enable youth to pursue post-secondary degrees or careers in these areas, and to raise their awareness of the benefits associated with an increased statewide focus on STEM.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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