School science fairs challenge youth

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science project

Are you smarter than fifth-graders at a science fair?

This is not a trick question nor is this an advertisement for a TV program. This is a testament that the curiosity of a middle school student can evolve into an opportunity for outstanding achievement.

Beginning in fifth grade, all across Ohio, students are exposed to the scientific method through their experiences in their schools’ science fairs.

Gone are the days that the most popular project involved building a volcano that erupted while using a vinegar and baking soda-based concoction. With encouragement and guidance from teachers, family and professional resources, the curious student is able to seek out answers to the question “what if…?” and can be challenged to probe the realities of the real world.

Judging benefits

If truth were to be told, I must admit that I have benefitted through the years of serving as a judge for local, regional and state science fair programs.

Through the many student experiments, I can confidently affirm that I am now using the best toothpaste for the whitest teeth; that I can adjust the correct music tempo to increase my task performance; and of course, I now know which breed of dogs have the highest IQ scores.

State championship

State Science Day is an astonishing display of student projects that had been previously judged on the local and regional levels.

More than 1,200 students from across the state convene at the French Field House on The Ohio State University campus to pose their question, share their hypothesis, describe their experiments and report their findings.

These students researched and presented projects and reported findings on such topics as The Effect of Invasive Honeysuckle on Plant Growth and The Correlations between Amphibian Populations and Water Chemistry in a Constructed Wetland.

Mentors needed

The opportunity for professionals to serve as mentors and as information providers abound. I encourage those of us in the natural resources and agricultural careers to reach out to the local schools and science programs to offer guidance and resources to assist the blossoming scientist on such projects as How to Test the Local Water Sources for Microplastic Pollution and Its Effects on Agriculture.

As a side note: The Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts sponsors cash awards for students who participate in this largest-sponsored science fair program in the nation. We all can benefit from these young scientists’ research as I can attest after 30 years of judging participation.

Of course, I am now more curious about such questions as Does Your Age or Gender Affect Your Memory and How to Redesign Hearing Aid Earmolds. A very smart fifth-grader can very well help to find these answers!

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Irene Moore is the district administrator for the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. She grew up in Jefferson County and has worked for the district for 23 years. She can be reached at imoore@jeffersoncountyoh.com.

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