MSTC students well-prepared for science fair
Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Tuesday, February 07, 2017
For MSTC juniors and seniors, competing in the District Science Fair is a requirement on Karen Young’s watch. Preparing for the judges’ scrutiny helps them focus their main points and refine their presentations. To get ready for the Feb. 11 event, Young’s students held mock science fairs in class, with individuals and small groups explaining their research and their peers offering constructive criticism.
“It’s nice to get a feel for how projects will be scored and what the judges might ask, and to practice boiling down our projects,” said junior Nathan Rukavina. “Problem-solving and public speaking practice are always good,” he added.
Young, the facilitator in the Math, Science and Technology Center at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, offered tips as the teenagers rotated every 10 minutes. “You’re not reading (the project board) to your judge – you’re having a conversation,” she said. And, “We’re doing this to help each other, so make some notes on the back (of the scoring sheet) so they have some feedback.”
During the mock fair, each student or team did five or six run-throughs as peer judges evaluated their display boards, hypotheses, and experimental questions. Young also reminded all to bring their journals or logs to Saturday’s competition.
About 100 Dunbar students signed up for this year’s Kentucky American Water Science Fair, which is open to grades 4-12 and organized by Fayette County Public Schools. (At the high school level, all participants automatically advance to the Central Kentucky Regional Science and Engineering Fair.)
Young’s seniors will offer up the results of their MSTC Capstone Research project, which they have worked on for more than a year. The juniors’ entries vary from self-designed research to projects they are developing with a mentor.
“From the beginning, I encourage the students to find a topic that is of great interest to them, which is why our projects are as diverse as research in the areas of plant reproduction, applications of game theory, and quantum physics,” Young said.
For instance, Nathan and two classmates designed an adaptive gripper tool for a robotic arm that enables the user to determine what an object is merely by the feel of it. In terms of broader applications, the tool might be used in a manufacturing plant on a robotics assembly line.
Meanwhile across the room, junior Zsombor Gal described his work on neuropathology and Alzheimer’s disease, including analysis of digital slides. As he noted, “Win or lose, you still go through the scientific method and research process, which is very important for students.”
If you go
KAW/FCPS Science Fair
- When: Saturday Feb. 11; judging begins at 9 a.m., with awards at 3 p.m.
- Where: Bryan Station High School
- Details: www.fcps.net/science