Students from across Pocahontas County gather at the GBO for the 2019 science fair
Pocahontas County students in grades three through eleven took part in the 2019 Science Fair at the Green Bank Observatory on December 3rd. Three categories of projects were reviewed by a panel of judges – Engineering, Life Science and Physical Science.
GBO employee Paul Vosteen was one of the judges and talked about what he was looking for when reviewing the projects.
“One of the things I’m look for is how interested is the student in what it is they’re telling you about,” he said. “You can really tell when these students have a) done their research, b) have a passion for the subject and c) want to tell somebody else about it!”
“If they come right out and say oh I’m so excited about this, so excited about plants, so excited about animals, you get that in the presentation. You see in the posters, I look for those things.”
Vosteen says he saw those qualities in a lot of the projects he was judging. He explained the judging process.
“That’s a tough question because it seems like it’s an arbitrary process but really it isn’t,” he said. “There’s a little tick box. If they had all the scientific data that they wanted to have, that was a tick; if they had some of it, that was also a tick. So then you get points based on all of it or some of it or none of it. Then you just add up all of the scores at the bottom of your sheet and you come up with a really nice even grade for everybody. Everybody’s going to come out of it with a pretty good score as long as they’ve done all the research and done all the work.”
As the students were preparing to head back to their schools I caught up with a couple of the winning teams. Max O’Ganian and Mason Solliday were the 9th grade winners and Judge’s Choice award winners in the Engineering category for their project On Target. Max explained what their project was about.
“Our project was on the different fletching on arrows to see which fletching would go the farthest,” he said. “We tried five different types of fletchings.”
Here’s Nolan Street describing his team project.
“Me and my friend Gavin here did our project on citrus fruit batteries and we called it Citric Shock,” said Nolan, “and we had a really good time. For overall scores we got third place and we got first place in sixth grade for engineering ‘cause [sic] we were the only ones.”
This was the first year for them to participate in the science fair. While he was happy for the win, he was also analytical about it.
“I think it worked really well,” he said. “I think we could have added a couple more fruits to make it a little better.”
Vosteen says he was encouraged by what he saw at the science fair and hopes to see even more involvement next year.
“I would encourage all the students who are in our local schools to do the science fair project and do it in something they really like,” he said. “But also – hey, look at the engineering and look at the life sciences; we had tons of physical science but not so many in engineering or life science so try something new.”