ATLANTA - Student competitors and parents are holding their breath, hoping the canceled Georgia Student Technology Competition for elementary school students will be rescheduled.
Organizers called the competition off this week amid heightened coronavirus concerns.
Parents say there are plenty of ways to hold the competition without having hundreds of people in close proximity to one another.
Nine-year-old Urijah Stella can hardly contain his excitement about the idea of coming home with a prize.
He’s been working on his project for Georgia Student Technology Competition for months
"Normally he’s all over the place, bouncing off the walls," his mother, Gloria, said. "And when he presented to the judges [at regionals] everyone was shocked because he was so calm and mature, which is the total opposite of how he normally is. So that’s how we know he was the most nervous he’s ever been in his entire life," she said.
Urijah says his interest in science and technology date back as far as he can remember:
"When I was four, I thought I was going to build a drone in two days which was kind of dramatic," he scoffed.
The elementary schooler won first place in the regional tech competition for his green screen video "screen robber."
When Urijah learned this week Saturday’s competition was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, he was crushed.
"It was the worst day ever," he said.
Since then, Urijah his mother, and other passionate techies have called the organization with hopes of finding an alternative.
"It’s a tech fair," Gloria Stella said.
"We’re in the digital age and we could do a competition. There’s plenty of festivals and competitions that make their decisions and they announce them [while] streaming."
Other events are canceling and making adjustments across the country.
South by Southwest was canceled in Austin.
Chicago will not have it’s annual St. Patrick’s day parade.
The final four in Atlanta will be played with no fans in the stands.
These changes have the Stellas questioning what’s next?
"I don’t believe people should just stop their lives," Stella said. "What if this continues on for months? What’re they gonna do, just stop society? No one's gonna go to work? School? No one's going to do anything?"
The competition posted a statement on its website. It reads in part:
“Following the decision to cancel, more and more events have also made similar decisions...COVID-19 is an ever-changing situation and new information comes out daily.
"Rest assured, our team of volunteers is diligently exploring alternate options to hold the competition in some capacity and we will communicate the details as decisions are made.”