|I attended my second Science Fair in the region. As a parent of a student scientist, I’m proud to report that many of our youth are curious, engaging and positive human beings! Continued...|
Over 250 students from 10 area towns competed in the 49th San Juan Basin Regional Science Fair held on Thursday, March 1 at the Durango Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. The purpose of the Fair, as stated by the San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services, is to "encourage student learning and exploration and to promote interest in math, science, engineering and technology."
I should have guessed that my middle kid, Emmi, who lagged behind on family hikes collecting flowers and rocks and pausing to look at animal tracks and weather conditions would now be a budding scientist at this fair. She'd also displayed her keen scientific interests during an eight year dedication to entomology projects with 4H, under the caring tutelage of retired scientist Charlie King PhD. His encouragement and guidance helped her learn about and conduct research on "potential pollinators on Pagosa Skyrocket/Ipomopsis Polyantha," a plant found one place on earth: Pagosa Springs. (It is one of four endemic plants here.) Their enthusiasm is contagious; and I find myself able to identify the order of every insect we've seen in Pagosa and I am living proof that life-long-learning is possible and even fun!
Pagosa area students did well at the fair, impressing the judges and boggling the mind of this parent in many cases. Kelsea Anderson, eighth grader at Pagosa Springs Junior High, for instance, explained her project to me over lunch, and I struggled to comprehend its complexities and meaning. I did come away from the fair understanding that local students are learning and thinking, and may even one day solve some serious problems currently facing our world.
Besides this positive outlook, I can happily report that sixteen 6th graders participated in the fair — representing a grade level when our youth are still immensely curious and willing to do the hard work over time which it takes to complete a science fair project. There were also ten Junior High students who made the effort and one lone high school student — my daughter, the nature lover. Perhaps this online recognition and the awards to follow will entice more local students to think about an interest and take it to science fair...
All of the students are to be sincerely congratulated for their studies in the field of science; and they all should all feel proud to have competed with so many others with a passion for the sciences.
Winning a special award was a glowing young Pagosa girl who studied the effects of temperature on a fuel cell. Kelsea Anderson will be attending Space Camp with all expenses paid in Alabama this summer! (Ignacio's "Chief Space Cadet" Danny Jaques sponsors this special award.) Anderson was also honored with first place award from La Plata Electric Association because her project "promoted energy efficiency and conservation, sustainable development and renewable energy" — something we are hearing more and more about these days. Sixth grader Keith Archuleta was honored for a similar achievement by Empire Electric Association.Continued...
Other special awards were given to Pagosa students Angie Gallegos, $50 for second place in space sciences application also; and she took home an MP3-player winning the BP "Making a Difference Award." Crystal Purcell was awarded the first of many awards, $50 from Ecosphere Environmental Services for recognition of an outstanding environmental sciences project. The DaVinci Awards, named after the Italian scientist, inventor and artist, include award medallions and traveling plaque given for 1st through 5th place in "Overall Best in Show Exhibits" in each of the 3 grade level divisions. Emmi Greer in Environmental Sciences and Crystal Purcell both placed third and took home medallions.
One of the few TV channels our family all enjoys is Discovery, and they apparently have an award called "The Young Scientist Challenge," which a few Pagosa students will compete in, as a result of the regional fair decisions. Perhaps we Pagosa area residents will get to watch these kids, in this national contest of 6th to 8th graders with a "strong knowledge of science and the ability to communicate effectively about it in person and writing." Nominated to participate are Kendra Schlom, Crystal Purcell and the team of Kylie Johnson, Gabrielle Pajak and Toni Stoll. In case this is not enough enticement, Emmi Greer also won a $200 award in High School Scholarship category to support future independent research and future educational expenses. I am certain she will use this to continue researching what pollinates the 'Pagosa Skyrocket,' but she has also been working at encouraging younger students by taking on leadership of the Unit 1 4H entomology project this year, so her mentor Charlie King can continue to lead the large group of upper level entomology 4H'ers. Emmi thoroughly enjoys sharing her enthusiasm and experiences with these future scientists as well.
The Category Awards, which the crowd anxiously awaited, were given to the following Pagosa students: In Jr Behavioral + Social Sciences, Honorable Mention 7th grader Kalie Ray, Jr Engineering, 2nd place, Kelsea Anderson, Jr Environmental Science, 3rd Garrett Stoll, who looked for alternative paper sources, Jr Physics, Honorable Mention, Silas Thompson, with "Shooting Efficiency," Jr Zoology, Crystal Purcell, 6th grade Engineering, 3rd Kendra Schlom, researching solar powered water desalination, Honorable Mention, Sable Baxstrom, for "Lasers," and Team Projects 1st, Satara Arthoud, Katie Blue, Hannah Matzdorf, who compared "Baked to Classic Lays" potato chips. (At their booth, I discovered both types of chips taste good, albeit different, but that those baked chips are perhaps not as nutritionally bad for you.) State Finalists nominated to attend the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair at Colorado State University campus in Ft.Collins are Crystal Purcell in Jr Division and Emmi Greer in Sr Division.
Congrats also to those students who brought their studies to fruition, Elie McGinn, Hayley Hudson, Travis Loran, Dylan Super, Mireya Ortega, Sienna Espinosa, Evan Brookens, Liam Frey, Mary Brinton, Hannah Denton, and Danielle Pajak. Patak's project explored why some people are more flexible than others. (As a striving yoga practitioner, I was hoping she'd tell me there was some anatomical reason I can't yet touch my toes — provide an excuse if you will. Unfortunately for me, her research did not provide any such thing, although I hope my encouragement to further explore may yet show I have a scientific excuse for my deficiencies.)
Fortunately for us all, our local youth are not deficient in leadership as their teachers, Tracy Schenk, LeeAnn Skoglund, Justin Cowan and J.D. Kurz, (who incidentally demonstrated the-science-of-aging-well by turning 30 the day of the Fair), devotedly help them with all these projects beginning in the fall erach year and continuing with culmination of State Fair in April. Keeping youth interested in learning is a challenging thing; and I'm thankful there are many who make this happen for our local youth!