BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BURLINGTON – High school science students took over most of the health science wing on the campus of Southeastern Community College Thursday morning.
It was a full day of biofuels, worms, bats, nitrogen, spit and whatever else these creative students came up with over six months of preparing for the morning of judging. Forty judges reviewed more than 110 projects by 146 students.
Students from schools around the Southeast Iowa Superconference brought their science projects into the John Witte Health Sciences Building for three and half hours of judging by area teachers, naturalists, and professors with winners announced in the afternoon.
Teachers from Central Lee High School and Middle School, Danville, Holy Trinity Catholic, New London, Van Buren, Winfield-Mt. Union and West Burlington, were on hand to assist with the fair.
Mallory Wills, a teacher in her first year at Holy Trinity Catholic said with the country highly focused on STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, its important students get hands-on with their learning. Holy Trinity had close to 30 entrants in the fair with junior high and high school combined.
“You can always teach from a book, and show students the scientific formula, but this is the practical application for these students. It’s important for them to put what they are learning to work on projects like this,” Wills said.
Wills said she has seen a lot of really investigative work for the past six months the students have been putting the projects to work, but one that stands out was a survey done but two HTC high school students looking at the use of e-cigarettes among area high schools.
“They have this very detailed survey, in my opinion, its FDA quality, and they surveyed more than 300 students at FM, HTC and CL. So they have a lot of surprising data and some really good stuff in that,” Wills said.
Jayde Watznauer, one of the HTC students involved in the e-cigarette survey told Iowa Wesleyan University judge Will Hansen, that they would like to expand the survey to bigger more metropolitan cities. She said the survey revealed that a lot of the students didn’t realize what they were ingesting.
Wills said students can spend up to six months perfecting their projects and then start the year with just having to finish up the boards. But she said some other students don’t have an idea until they come to school, and for the most part, that’s the toughest part of the projects
“Some start in the summer and then have the research finished by the start of the year, and then they have to just put their boards together,” she said “But the hardest part of science fair is coming up with the idea. Once you’ve got the idea and you figure out a good way to do it, you’re good. If you can get past that point, most kids will be excited and stay with it, but coming up with that initial idea is the hardest part.”
She said most of the work is done on the student’s own time and doesn’t take place of any classroom curriculum.
“This year we went over the scientific method, but it’s mostly on their own outside of school. We’re around if they need help with anything, but mostly it’s on their own,” she said.
Following the Superconference Fair, typically students will also participate in the Eastern Iowa Science Fair which takes place in Cedar Rapids, and then a state competition. Top-placers at those fairs will be invited to an international competition, which this year is in Arizona.
Central Lee’s Everlee Harvey won a Division I in the junior high biological category with her “Does Feeding Time Effect Birthing Time for a Ewe”. Jenna Hellman of Holy Trinity, and Kate Azinger and Halle Lampe of Central Lee took a Division II in the same category.
In the junior high physical science category, Central Lee’s Grant Anderson took a Division I rating for his project, “The Effects of Wavelength on Solar Efficiency”, while Holy Trinity’s Ellie Lake and Laura Mehmert each scored a Division II rating.
At the senior level, Claire Willis of Central Lee won a Division I rating , while Faith Diephuis and Kaylynn Summers of Central Lee took a Division II ranking. In the biological category, Brooklyn Pardell of Central Lee took a Division 1 rating, while Brianna Gruntmier of Central Lee took a Division II rating.
In the special awards Pardell earned a $100 Schiller award for 2nd place in the Top Biological Science Project. Pardell also earned a $50 Tull Pollinator Award. Holy Trinity Catholic’s Mary Kate Bendlage took a $50 prize for the Tull Honey Award.
Holy Trinity’s Daltin Boeding took home a $20 Inspiring Excellence Award as did Josephine Newton and Hannah Leech of Central Lee.