L. Raschella, from the Buckhannon Christian Academy, completed a project for the Upshur County Science Fair about volcanic eruptions. L. said she chose this project because she wondered how volcanoes erupt after she saw a volcano in Hawaii. L. said she put in approximately 20 hours and loves science. When she grows up, she wants to be a teacher or a scientist. / Photos by Beth Christian Broschart

Upshur County Science Fair participants learn how scientific principles can be applied in real-life scenarios

TENNERTON – Over the past few months, many Upshur County elementary and middle-school students have put on their experimental thinking caps and worked with siblings, friends, family members, mentors and teachers to develop a science project.

And on Saturday, those students gathered at Buckhannon-Upshur High School to display their projects and knowledge to a panel of judges.

More than 50 Upshur County students participated in the Upshur County Science Fair, and the first-place winners will advance to the Regional Science Fair in February 2023 at Fairmont State University. Regional winners are invited to participate in the state science fair that March.

Gabrielle Thomas-Rhodes, principal at Washington District Elementary School, said this is her fifth year coordinating the Upshur County Science Fair. She thanked everyone for attending and said the event is one she looks forward to each year.

“I would like to congratulate all of our ribbon holders and congratulate everyone who came out and participated. The judges were talking about how tough it was to judge because all of the projects were so good.”

Preston Cochran, a fourth-grade student from Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, completed a science fair project based on volcanoes. He built a working volcano and said he chose this project because he really likes volcanoes and hopes to see a real-life volcano sometime. He spent about 62 hours on his project and learned about the volcanic explosivity index.

Upshur County Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Harrison attended the fair and commended the participants on their enthusiasm.

“It is so wonderful to see the excitement in the kids – and not only excitement in the kids, but also the excitement in the parents,” Harrison said. “It is indicative of what the teaming of students, parents and the schools can be and the impact that has.”

Rhodes said the science fair gives students the opportunity to increase their love of science.

“It gives them the chance to have the hands-on learning experience in science – project-based learning – and it lets them see how science is embedded into their everyday life,” Rhodes shared. “Projects about baseball or bubblegum or popcorn teach the learners that science is a part of every aspect of their lives. It also helps them with math because with science comes data and with data comes math.”

Another wonderful learning opportunity that is part of presenting a science fair project is in the area of communication skills.

“A lot of our elementary students have not had much experience with public speaking before,” Rhodes said. “Their ability to get up in front of a complete stranger – because they do not know the judges — and communicate and speak is really big. They learn about making eye contact and projecting their voices and explaining themselves thoroughly. It is a big help for our students, especially with the increase in technology where there is a decrease in communication skills. This gives students the opportunity to learn how to communicate effectively.”

Judges Hannah Lunsford and Sara Aylestock said they enjoyed hearing from the students participating in the science fair.

“Their creativity is amazing,” Lunsford said. “Some of the things they have come up with I would not even think of, and they are really thinking out of the box.”

Aylestock said participation in the science fair was optional for the students.

“This was an additional project these students could do, so it was encouraging to see so many projects,” Aylestock said. “To do this outside of school on a rainy Saturday and be in front of strangers presenting their projects is a lot for elementary students. I think it is encouraging so many students wanted to participate.”

Winners from Saturday’s Upshur County Science Fair include:

Chemistry – first place, Liam Rogosky, Union Elementary School; second place, Emry Starkey and Nekota Ware, Washington District Elementary School; and third place, Peter Oliverio, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School. First place Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School was Gwen Rogosky and Clair Small.

Earth and Space – first place, Lana Gibson, Union Elementary School; second place, L. Raschella, Buckhannon Christian Academy; and third place, Alexis Eagle and Kara Heldreth, Tennerton Elementary School. First place Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School was Pyper Mazarek.

Life Science – first place Krista Collins, Rock Cave Elementary School.

Physics – first place Trinity Shaffer, Washington District Elementary School; second place, Lexcie Roy and Ariel Glasser, Washington District Elementary School; and third place, Grace Shahan, Union Elementary School.

Engineering – first place, Tayden Swindler and Brayson Watts, Rock Cave Elementary School. Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School first place – Emma Collett and Macy Collett.

Biology – first place, Gianna Monteleone, Union Elementary School; second place, Jaiden Landis, Washington District Elementary School; and third place, Baileigh Shaw and Hannah Tolliver, Rock Cave Elementary School.

Math and Data – first place, Monterae Metz, Union Elementary School.

Medical – first place, Isabelle Ingel, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.

Student winners at the Regional Science Fair will advance to the West Virginia State Science Fair.

Nearly 60 students participated in the Upshur County Science Fair at Buckhannon-Upshur High School Saturday, demonstrating their science skills, knowledge and personal communication skills. Pictured are the first, second and third-place winners in each category. First-place winners will advance to the regional competition to earn the chance to compete at the state science fair.

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