This story originally appeared in NBC 29.
The University of Virginia is looking to high school students to expand the public's knowledge of science.
The School of Engineering invited central Virginia high school students to take part in a science fair Thursday exploring the realm of material science. That is the engineering study of physical things like metals and ceramics.
Graduate research assistant Chris Petz said, "We really want to increase the awareness of material science, and encourage it as a field of study for undergraduate and graduate students alike."
The winners of the fair were Randall Jepson Junior and Ben Deal from Albemarle High School for their project on aerogels. Those are lightweight materials that act as a thermal coating.
Second place went to Naomi Weiner from Charlottesville High School for her project on quantum dots, small particles used for super computers. Melissa Lewis and Guillaume Bailey, also from Albemarle High School took home third for their project on paint derived naturally from lotusan plants.
The fair was made possible by a $6,000 grant in cooperation with an upcoming PBS series about engineering called "Making Stuff." That money went to paying for supplies for UVA graduate assistants to teach the high school fair participants more about material science as well as the cash prizes awarded to the winners.