BUCKHANNON – More than 40 Upshur County elementary and middle school students gathered Saturday at Buckhannon-Upshur High School to share their science fair projects and compete for a spot in the upcoming regional science fair, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 12, at Fairmont State University.
Upshur County Science Fair Coordinator Gabby Rhodes said 43 projects entered this year’s competition.
“We are excited — this is a perfect example of how Upshur County schools support project-based learning,” Rhodes said. “We are excited to see the hands-on learning and hands-on experiences we can offer our students. You can look at the presentations, you can see the amount of creativity, thought and effort, experiments and the thought process they have for the scientific process. It is honestly wonderful to have this many participants countywide.”
Before she became a principal, Rhodes taught science — although when she was young, it was not her favorite subject.
“My very early teachers had us doing textbook learning, including looking up definitions and worksheets,” she said. “What changed my view was in 8th grade, I won a scholarship to the Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Once I came back, my whole mindset about science changed. So one hands-on experience changed my mind.”
Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said students demonstrated excellence in their various projects.
“They have researched and completed surveys regarding their projects,” Stankus said. “I think this type of learning lasts a lifetime.”
Stankus still remembers the projects she did in school.
“What happened today is very important, and next weekend we will be doing our Social Studies Fair,” Stankus said. “We will be doing more of this in the classroom as well. This is such an important way to learn.”
Upshur County Board of Education member Dr. Greenbrier Almond said he was happy to be a judge for the Upshur County Science Fair.
“I was glad to see behavioral health represented, as well as deer hunting,” Almond said. “The variety of questions these young minds are asking is amazing.”
Paisley Holley, a fourth-grade student at Washington District Elementary School, said her project explored things that can kill germs. Paisley is the daughter of Bill and Leslie Holley. She selected her subject because of the pandemic.
“I am always wondering what kills germs,” Paisley said.
As she was making her presentation, Paisley said she was very calm on the outside.
“But on the inside, it was like a volcano erupting,” Paisley said. “I spent about a month putting everything together. I put a lot into this.”
Paisley’s project won second place in the chemistry division and she will move on to the regional science fair.
Colin Nicholson attends Washington District Elementary School, where he is in fourth grade. His parents are Danny and Natalie Nicholson. Colin selected his project cause he enjoys deer hunting.
“Before, I did not know that much about deer hunting,” Colin shared. “I think it is interesting that deer are affected by the time of day they eat.”
Colin said he worked on his project for approximately two weeks.
“While I was making my presentation to the judges, I was very nervous,” Colin shared. “I was shaking while I was waiting to present. If I win today, I think I will be nice and calm the next time I have to make the presentation.”
Colin will have the chance to present his project at the regional science fair as his project took first-place in the life science category.
Winners at the Upshur County Science Fair include:
First Place – Landon Watkins, WDES
Second Place – Paisley Holley, WDES
Third Place – Eva Phillips, BAES
Earth and Space Science:
First Place – Haleigh Skidmore and Willow Evans, UES
Second Place – Lucas Fortney, UES
Third Place – Remington Phillips, BAES
First Place Middle School – Pyper Mazarek
First Place – Colin Nicholson, WDES
Second Place – Braylea Squires, BAES
First Place Middle School – Kyra Thompsons and Ryleigh Bleigh, B-UMS
Behavioral and Social Sciences:
First Place – Madison Cutright and Payton Pritt, WDES
First Place – Trinity Shaffer, WDES
Second Place – Grace Shahan, UES
Second Place – Kacie Neal, BAES
Third Place – Aliyah Glasser, WDES
First Place – Gianna Montelone, UES
Second Place – Logan Hawkins and Bruce Gooden – WDES
Judges for the event include Sherri Hoover, Nicki Reynolds, Wilson Harvey, Michelle Caynor, Taylor Armstrong, Abbie Golden, Lisa Bennett, Gracie Hall, Zach Davis, Paige Phillips, Abigail Poling, Amada Mason, Judy Price, Jeremiah McCourt, Stephanie Johnson and Jody Johnson.