By Brian Shaffer

More than 250 young scientists descended upon the Barrington Middle School gymnasium eager to see how their research, ideas and results would stack up in the eyes of a pro.

Would they have enough data? Would their experiments prove valid? Would their analysis be good enough?

The annual Science Fair competition is nothing new for Barrington students as the school has participated in the event since 2010. However, this year brought with it a layer of professionalism never before seen at the Lithia school.  A group of scientists from the nearby branch of the Mosaic company attended the competition to serve as judges.

It marked an important partnership between the school and the phosphate production company, whose buildings rest within a few hundred feet of one another off Fishhawk Blvd.

“We appreciate Mosaic’s support of our students’ academic endeavors,” said Peter Megara, Barrington assistant principal. “The army of employees that took time from their busy schedule to judge our science fair projects is a testament to Mosaic’s commitment to the community.”

The connection was an obvious one. The school had asked its young student scientists to conduct a long-term researched-based science project, those students needed an honest evaluation of their work, and Mosaic just so happens to be home to some of the area’s top scientists in a variety of fields of study.

However, a Barrington faculty member served as the tie that binds in this case. Science teacher Wanda Quiggle, whose sixth-grade classes participated in the competition, needed only to look across the dinner table to find someone who could help with judging. Her husband, Steve Quiggle, has worked at Mosaic and its predecessor companies for 31 years and was instrumental in getting his colleagues to participate.

“Mosaic employs technical people in a variety of disciplines and this was an opportunity for them to help students in our neighborhood by judging the science fair at Barrington Middle School,” said Steve, who helps to redesign information flows in the Supply Chain Department at Mosaic.

Twenty scientists were assigned to a two-hour session and judged as many projects as they could get to during that time. All of the projects were reviewed and assessed by at least two of the field professionals.

For more information on Mosaic, please visit


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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.