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A STEP FORWARD: Douglas County science fair gaining more high school participation
by Bill Baldowski
January 31, 2014 01:00 PM | 3098 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal

Rafael Martinez, a courier for the Douglas County School System, and Sylvia Lane, a teacher at Chapel Hill Elementary School, look over student projects which were part of the county's science fair as well as its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fair components.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal Rafael Martinez, a courier for the Douglas County School System, and Sylvia Lane, a teacher at Chapel Hill Elementary School, look over student projects which were part of the county's science fair as well as its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fair components.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal

From left, Carol Camp, secretary for professional learning with the Douglas County School System, and Sheila Wallace, records manager for the school system, look over a science project by Douglas County School student Baily Sharpe.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal From left, Carol Camp, secretary for professional learning with the Douglas County School System, and Sheila Wallace, records manager for the school system, look over a science project by Douglas County School student Baily Sharpe.
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From left, Ellen Morrow, supervisor of behavioral services with the Douglas County School System, and Stacy Brooks, an administrative assistant, look over a science project by Douglas County  student Thomas J. Reidenbach, III, which focused on renewable fuels for hybrid rocket engines.
From left, Ellen Morrow, supervisor of behavioral services with the Douglas County School System, and Stacy Brooks, an administrative assistant, look over a science project by Douglas County student Thomas J. Reidenbach, III, which focused on renewable fuels for hybrid rocket engines.
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Although the exhibits in last week’s Douglas County School System Science Fair were impressive, it was the number of high school participants that was seen as a major milestone for the annual event.

Pam Walker, science school improvement specialist who helped organize the fair, said of the 81 exhibits on display this year, 26 were developed by high school students, more than doubling last year’s total high school participation.

Last year’s event only included 10 high school students countywide. A majority of participants were middle school students, she said.

“I was so pleased to see our high school students taking a more active role in this event,” Walker said.

In actuality, this year’s science fair, held at the school system’s central office, contained two different types of exhibits – those for a science fair and the remainder for a science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fair.

A trio of judges evaluated projects in each competition.

Walker said the science fair exhibits were judged in four categories — research, scientific thought, thoroughness and skill — plus student interviews conducted by the judges.

In the STEM competition, the exhibits were judged in the same categories with one exception.

“Instead of research being one of the judging categories, the STEM exhibits were judged in creative ability and engineering,” Walker said.

Exhibits entered in both events were judged on a 100-point scale, Walker said.

She said students, with help from their teachers, developed most of the ideas for the exhibits. The group of accepted scientific project topics for the fair was given to the students in August, she said.

“With our school system’s emphasis now on science and math, we are moving this event in the direction of STEM exhibits,” Walker said.
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