Green Bank Students Show Off Science Smarts
Green Bank, WV – Elementary and middle school students from Green Bank got to show off their scientific know-how during the annual Green Bank Science Fair, held on December 20th. The competition, for students in 4th through 8th grades, was held at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. As the judges were going over the entries on the morning of the 20th, Green Bank Science teacher Anne Smith explained what the judges were looking for.
“They’re looking for things like the scientific method, if they followed procedures for it” she says. “They’re looking to see if the children know what they did and understand why what they did happened. And they’re looking for enthusiasm in the project; are they excited, did they like it, why did they do it, how did they get the ideas, that kind of thing.”
Each project included a purpose, hypothesis, data and observations, a materials list, and the procedure followed to test the hypothesis. Finally in the conclusion the students explained whether or not their hypothesis were correct or not. Smith says there were a variety of interesting projects offered.
“One boy did one on the types of bait of a rabbit, which [do] they like better carrots or apples; and he set out box traps, took data like that” she says. “Another one is catapults. They made a catapult and saw how far different items were flung and why they were flung that distance; several with children as subjects.”
Only the eighth graders were required to participate in the science fair; for the other grades it’s optional. She says with weather related school closings this year, they didn’t have quite as much class time as she’d hoped, so the kids had to do a bit more work at home. Even so, out of 37 kids who prepared projects, 13 were from grades 4 through 7.
While the younger grades went back to school, Smith says the eighth graders stayed at the observatory to work on other projects.
“They’re building, if I understand it correctly, a light sensitive alarm system” she says. “When you open a drawer and the light hits it, a little alarm is going to beep. They’re going to be soldering and doing things with electrical work.”
“All of the eighth grade were required to do a project, so we’re kind of expanding the eighth grade to be doing other things at the observatory as well.”
She says they had several volunteer judges looking at the projects.
“We have pairs of judges, one that’s a scientific field and one that’s non-science so they get a balanced view of each project” says Smith. “We also have judges from the forest service and the [West Virginia] DNR.”
One of the judges was Julie Dillon, who was especially taken with the work of the 4th through 7th grade students.
“I’m very impressed at the number of kids who did something like this voluntarily and are willing to put themselves out there” she says. “Because anytime you get up and stand in front of adults and have to answer questions, that’s hard to do and I think it’s a great learning experience just on that level alone.”
Jacob Jones and Mathias Solliday won the first place in the 4-5 grade category with their Fling-O-Matic catapult. Tessa Himelick won first place in the 6-7 grade category with her project The Berry Brightest Stains. In the 8th grade, Miles Goodall took top honors with his project about how distracting various noises can be when trying to work.
Other participants receiving awards:
4-5th grade – 2nd place – Noah Barkley – Testing corrosive effects on coins
6-7th grade – 2nd place – Kaila Peck & Autumn Nelson – testing which powder works best for fingerprints – flour, baking soda or baking powder
8th grade – 2nd place – Cody McCarty – rocket match
8th grade – 3rd place – Kindra Carr
Honorable mentions (all eighth graders)
Natalie Hartzell – black & white vs colored words
Heather Pritt – great (soda) pop explosion
Josh Carr – which solution cleans a rusty nail best
Tristan Day – what kind of clothing provides the most warmth