by Lisa Tome
Chuck Douty has only missed a few Perryville Middle School science fairs in the 15 years they've been held.
Douty, whose children formerly attended the school, is now dad to two who have entered science career fields. He is one of the judges at the annual science fair.
"I don't know that it's changed much. Every year there is something that jumps out at me. Every year there is one that's above the bar," said Douty. "When you interview the students, they know absolutely what they're doing. They're energized. They're passionate. You know they're gonna to go into a science field." Douty is a manager at Medimmune. His father was also a science fair judge.
Corey Ponte, who works at North Bay, was living his dream during last Wednesday's fair. "This is my first time as a judge. The kids are pretty amazing. The projects are well thought out and creative," said Ponte. He said he learned that water, toothpaste, and baking soda will all remove unwanted magic marker writing. "It was one of my life goals to judge a science fair," said Ponte.
Seventh grader Samuel Christian's science project was founded by necessity. Christian is charged with taking the trash out at home. He found that the bags broke frequently. That's when he decided to test the strength of three leading brands of bags. The judges were impressed by his oral presentation. "You could tell he learned from it," said the panel of judges.
Anne Marie Baumann, lead science teacher for eighth grade, explained that the fair is mandatory. Students begin working on projects in late September of early October. Extra help is available. The school also supplies the tri fold boards and composition books used to record data. Or students may provide their own. Sixth graders base their project on earth science, seventh grade on life science, and eighth grade physical science. Or any student may choose consumer science.
In all, there were 309 projects in the fair. Each of those received an A,B, or C grade and were entered in the schoolwide fair. Those that were school winners, have the chance to advance to another round in Baltimore later in March.
Mikayla Bryant tested tennis balls to see which bounces best in varying temperatures. She tested how high they bounce while family members took photos.
Eighth grader Josh Naguta, didn't win for his project, but he gets points for creativity. Naguta's project, entitled Wheelies, has a video screen built into the project board. "It was my dad's idea for the video. It took him a while to do it," said Naguta.
The judges are all volunteer and include those from local organizations, seven STEM students from Perryville High, and people from Aberdeen Proving Ground, North Bay, and the Cecil County Health Department. Each student also presents their project and fields questions from a panel of judges. Parents got the opportunity to view the projects during conference night,
Teacher Kim Bartell founded the event at the school as a way to get scientists involved in the school. "It's paid off year after year," said Bartell.
The winners for this year's Perryville Middle School Science Fair are:
First place: Grace Jones with Are you being distracted yet?
Second place: Connor Finney with Solution to oil pollution
Third place: Scott Gilbert and Ethan Crouse with How easy can your password be hacked?
Honorable mention: Eric Lenhart with Robots vs. terrain.