(Guest Post - Kevin Brogan)
The annual St. Charles Middle School Science Fair in Arlington was held Friday morning, Fedruary 3rd, in the auditorium, exhibiting the research of the sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes. On display were 39 research projects covering the physical sciences of chemistry, physics, and earth science, as well as the behavioral and social sciences.
The Junior Academy of the Washington Academy of Sciences provided 14 volunteer judges to evaluate the projects of these young scientists. The judges spoke directly with the students, inquiring on the research and study behind their presentations. Many of the judges commented on the enthusiasm the students brought to their work.
The students presented their research as the judges moved about the room in pairs, each group evaluating a specific field. The judges engaged the students in a free flowing discussion of ideas and lessons learned.
The students’ hard work was demonstrated in their presentations and response to inquiries. The judges were continually amazed at the ingenious ideas and approaches the students took.
One aspect that struck every judge was the personal connection, where the presentation was tied to some aspect of the student’s life; from a cook who wanted to know if sugar substitute could be used for cooking (each substitute lost convincingly to the real thing in a taste test) to a musician who wanted to soundproof her sister’s room so as not to disturb her during practice.
The judges evaluated the research on project clarity, accuracy of the science, and the presentation by the student. Judging the presentation on the merit of science and research along with the enthusiasm of the student made it a difficult task for all. In the end after much deliberation and reevaluation by the judges six projects rose to the top:
- Confirming sugar vs sugar substitute as a matter of preference
- Determining Vitamin C in vegetable as correlation to leaf darkness
- Measuring vegetation growth in sand vs gravel
- Assessing fear and phobia as a factor of maturity
- Discovering bacteria in the Mall
- Examining soundproofing materials
It was good to see that science and technology exploration is in the hands of qualified enthusiastic young scientists. At the award ceremony, several speakers noted how science comes in many different forms and research can be applied across a vast range of inquiries. Washington Academy of Science provided certificates to each student in appreciation of allowing us to be a part of this experience, with the hope that the students will continue with their interest in science and technology wherever it takes them.
Kevin Brogan, PhD, helps run the Junior Academy at the Washington Academy of Sciences. He is a published author on Defense Policy and the Value Of Performance In Technology For Government at the Northrop Grumman Corporation.