by Lisa Tome
Madison Zalfa wasn't intimidated by the judges at her school's science fair.
Instead, Zalfa, who compared storage methods for fresh fruit, stood toe to toe with judges Jason Edmands and Dominic Muscella and told them preserving strawberries made her want to learn more about science.
"She definitely knew what she was doing. That's a real life application and she did it. And she's a third grader," said Edmands, who has a Ph.D.
Muscella, a student judge, agreed. "I could tell it was all just her (creating the project). She had good eye contact and she didn't stick to the word for word," said Muscella.
The second annual Conowingo Elementary Science Fair was underway.
"So far, so good," said Alison Marousek, who teaches Gifted and Talented at Conowingo.
The science fair at the school is voluntary. Marousek said there were fewer entries this year.
Marousek said that months before the fair was held, she met with parents to explain that the purpose was to get students involved with science and parent assistance should be minimal.
"It's the second year and we have less projects. Because it's the second year they realize how much of an undertaking it is. These are quality projects," she said.
The school also hosted three sessions before school where students could get extra help with learning the Scientific Method. Students were also given free display boards. "Everything else was done at home," said Marousek.
The topics students selected were broad-ranged. There were projects regarding magnetic force, solar power, which bubble bath creates the best bubbles, paper towel absorbency challenges, paper making, and many more.
Fourth grader Kylie Reeves decided to see if lemons produce electricity. Her project demonstrated that seven lemons will produce electric. "It was fun," said Reeves.
The judges included seven staffers from Aberdeen Proving Ground, several with a doctorate degrees in science fields. There were also a half dozen students from Rising Sun and Perryville High School judging. There was one judge from Old Dominion Electrical Cooperative. Instructional coaches from the school system also served as judges.
Rising Sun High student Matthew Cordrey was a first time judge. "You can see how much they're involved and the enthusiasm they have. I'm excited to judge. It's great seeing little kids interested in science at such a young age," said Cordrey.
Frank Sanchez is an engineer at APG. He's also a new parent. "I remember doing a science project with my dad. He consulted. I'm already loving this," said Sanchez.
Matt Jones is an environmental scientist. He judged a project created by a third grader. "He was a little nervous but he did well," said Jones.
Aubrey Hill, a Perryville High student, interviewed an entrant who made plastic with vinegar and hot milk. "He seemed to know what he was doing. It's exciting seeing what kids think of. He did an excellent job," said Hill.
The winners of the 2017 Conowingo Elementary School Science Fair:
First place - Alexis Yurechko
Second place - Christina Frantz
Third place - McKenna Elliott
First place - Charlie Bach
Second place - Sarah Cantrell
Third place - Addison Coons
First place - Jillian Ragan
Second place - Mason Testerman
Third place - Olivia Griffith
First place - Jillian Ragan
Second place - Charlie Bach
Third place - Alexis Yurechko