Sweet Briar Student Judges Help Send Young Scientists to Regional Competition

| April 18, 2008

Sweet Briar College hosted its annual Amherst County EXTEND Science Fair on Tuesday, April 15 for elementary and middle school students. The participants advanced to the SBC event after qualifying at their school fairs.

SBC senior Christina Johnson interviews a student. By Jill Granger

More than 65 fifth- through eighth-graders presented posters displaying photos and descriptions of their projects. About 30 Sweet Briar science students served as judges, scoring the posters for effectiveness in conveying the hypothesis, methodology and findings; demonstrating the students’ understanding of the research; and presentation of the material.

Judges also interviewed the participants, evaluating them on such measures as how well they explained their research, understanding of the science principles involved, and its relevance to real life or why they were interested in the scientific question.

Jesse Granger’s idea to determine what fruits carry the most voltage came from TV. “I saw this dude run a clock using a potato and I wanted to see how he did it,” said the sixth-grader from Monelison Middle School.

Ten elementary and 10 middle school projects were selected to advance to the “Discovery Science Challenge” at the Central Virginia Regional Governor’s School.

Melaina Macone helps an Amherst County fourth-grader fill out a judging form. By Jill Granger

In addition to the official results, a group of fourth-grade observers took part in a mock judging process to decide the “People’s Choice Awards.” Under the direction of first-year Sweet Briar student Melaina Macone, the fourth-grade students went through a process similar to the one used by the official judges.

Macone said they approached the task critically. One fourth-grader questioned whether one project’s hypothesis was good and noted that on another, the science question didn’t have anything to do with the project.

“I found this impressive because the fourth-graders were looking past pretty posters and were more concerned with content,” Macone said. “This let me know they were considering the development of an experiment rather than a flashy presentation.”

And the winners are …

Elementary school winners
Malik Anderson – Elasticity
Leah Ayau – Flaming Wieners!
Amanda Bennett – Which Disinfectant Cleans the Best?
Jessica Camden – Color Stay
Sammy Howard – Rust
Ashton Mays – Will Your Clothes Burn?
Emily Power – Liquid Lights
Madison Slaughter – Melt Icy Melt
Kelsie Sligh – Bird Bath: After Oil Spills
Caroline Wood – Powering the Flowering

Middle school winners
Hannah Burley and Kasey Hunnicutt – Poppin’ With Popcorn
Travis Dean – Parachuting Packages of Produce
Christina Dietz – What Does Your Money Buy?
Skylar Higgins – Survivability of Snails
Jay Hobbes – Splitting Water
Emmet Howard – Does Temperature Affect a Soccer Ball?
Danielle LeBar – Football Friction
Michael Orvos – Which Vegetable is most Resistant to Electricity?
Margot Pleasants and Natalia Muglia – Where Will an Apple Rot Faster?
George Sherman – The Bernoulli Ball Blower

Elementary school People’s Choices
Leah Ayau – Flaming Wieners!
Christina Barnette – Freeze!
Ashton Mays – Will Your Clothes Burn?
Deborah Ferguson – Soil Pollution
Morgan and Mackenzie Pigg – What Makes Cents?

Middle school People’s Choices
Julia Auayau – Your Everyday Acids
Jesse Granger – Fruit Power
Danielle LeBar – Football Friction
Sarah Pentecost – Bubble Buster
Josh Ratliff – Mentos in Soda
Robert Ruggles – Which Can Hold More Weight

Category: Academics