Creative students compete in annual countywide science fair
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ annual science fair was held last Friday morning in Deacon Tower at BB&T Field, the home of Wake Forest University Football.
More than 60 displays, each representing a scientific theory and experiment, were on exhibited for judges to peruse. Honors in the categories of earth and environmental science, technology and engineering, physical science, chemistry and biological sciences (which has two prize divisions) were up for grabs.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Science Program Manager Benika Thompson said that fairs encourage students to become involved with science.
“Science is for everyone,” said Thompson. “It’s not that you can’t do science, you just have to figure out which type of science you enjoy; we do it every day.”
Students took different paths to the countywide science fair, including via winning their school’s science competition. Like generations of students before them, the students explained their work on traditional cardboard tri-folds, but the experiments performed by many of the students were the sort of things their parents could not have ever imagined in their school days.
Tony Ingram, 15, a freshman at Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, tested to see if cell phones give off radiation. For his
experiment, he placed various brands of cell phones beside a glass of water and let each ring for two minutes. He then used a thermometer to see if the water’s temperate rose. Thankfully for cellphone users, he found no temperature increase in the water. His experiment won second place in the high school technology and engineering category.
“I love technology,” he said of his inspiration for the experiment. “Technology is our future.”
Twelve-year-old Gracie Wall’s experiment involved Oobleck, a cornstarch and water substance that fascinated Wall because it pours like a liquid but becomes a solid when force is applied to it. Using varying amounts of water and cornstarch, Wall tested just how much she could fortify Oobleck, which is named for Dr . Suess’ tale “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” a copy of which sat near Wall’s tri-fold.
Wall, a sixth-grader at Paisley IB Magnet School, said science is her favorite subject. She aspires to be a veterinarian.
“It’s fun to try new things and figure out different ways to do stuff,” she said.
Nadia Jenkins, 12, a seventh-grader at Winston-Salem Prep, mixed a different type of substances for her experiment.
“My experiment was Shimmy Shimmy Soda Pop. It was about what it takes to make a good tasting soda and what it takes to make a soda fizz ,” said Nadia, an aspiring nurse.
She used varying combinations of baking soda and citric acid to make her own sodas for the experiment. Her most successful one tasted great after she added Kool-Aid.
Mauli Saini, 18, and Hannah Thorton, 17, seniors at North Forsyth High School, measured the speed of light using a microwave. The experiment won them first place in the high school physical science category. The girls described themselves as “science kids.”
“It’s interesting because it’s all around us,” said Saini of her favorite subject.
Both are college-bound, with Saini planning to study biology and Thorton preparing to study textiles.
Local scientists and professors were among those who made up the 20-person judging panel. As they made their rounds to review the student’s work, the judges often asked students about their work.
Judge Bruce Mellon, who taught science at both the grade-school and college level until he retired in 2008, was pleased that the students did not just rely on colorful, eye-catching tri-folds.
“I was impressed that all of them had done experiments instead of a poster-talk,” said Mellon. “And they had some
interesting takes on sort of classical experiments.”
During the awards presentation portion of the event, the students were treated to lunch and congratulatory and inspirational remarks from several speakers. All the students received t-shits touting World Water Day, which is designated as March 22 and aims to raise awareness on the importance of fresh water.
Last week’s fair proceeded one held for local elementary students last month at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Education Building. The fair was sponsored by the Northwest Area Health Education Center at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., SciWorks, Fisher Scientific and Associated Microscope Inc.
The other first-place winners are:
Middle School • Shuler Stemper, Clemmons Middle School, Biological A • Julia Fowler, Kernersville Middle School, Biological B • Noah Couch, Hanes Middle School, Earth and Environment • Maria Chavez Southeast Middle School, Physical Science • Gehao Pang, Hanes Middle School, Chemistry • Myers Harbinson, Hanes Middle School, Technology and Engineering
High School • Eric Baril, Paisley, Biological A • Monet Beatty, Paisley, Biological B • Daniel Watts, Paisley, Earth and Environment • Kayci Nielsen, Atkins High School, Chemistry • Marlene Leon and Sarah Hall, North Forsyth, Technology and Engineering.