Young science enthusiasts stood proudly in front of their science projects at the first ever Fernie Secondary School (FSS) Junior Science Fair on February 27.
Grade seven, eight and nine students at FSS were given free range to come up with interesting science experiments and the resulting displays were set up throughout the library. According to FSS biology teacher Laura Kroeker, the students first presented their experiments in class before heading down to the library for the competitive judging.
Volunteer judges came from within the Fernie community, including representatives of Teck, the Elk River Alliance and Wildsight. After the judging took place, it was revealed that 27 students and their projects were selected to move on to the regional science fair competition in Cranbrook.
“We felt really supported by all the judges and they were really enthusiastic and they were really good because it was nice to have other people come and look at their projects and tell them, “hey, you need a control,” so it reminded them that the things they’re learning in class are actually valid and other people outside of our teachers do think this is useful and this is proper science,” Kroeker said.
Although the competitive judging took place in the morning of February 27, FSS students still had plenty of time to show off their science accomplishments throughout the day. At approximately 2 p.m., grade four, five and six students from Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School (EIDES) came to view the projects and have some fun learning.
Younger students milled about the library, looking at experiments that ranged in topic from the classic lemon battery to a study on whether caffeine helps plants to grow faster. There were displays with rock candy, bubbles, sand, and much more that the younger students took delight in examining. The older students, who had conducted the experiments, explained the science to the EIDES students, giving them something to look forward to in the upcoming years of their education.
Some of the young scientists decided to look at serious, real life issues in their projects. One display looked into the science of suicide, while another examined how excessive cell phone use affects teenagers. Yet another experiment tested chemical levels in the Elk River.
“We just told them to find something that is of interest and of value to you and they did that,” Kroeker explained. “They were actually really good and found things that they were passionate about. We were very pleasantly surprised. We weren’t sure what the results would be but the students were really excited and did a really good job.”
The science fair was opened up to the public from 3-5 p.m. on February 27 to give the students even more opportunity to revel in their accomplishments.
Although this was the first ever junior science fair for FSS, there is a possibility it will become an annual tradition. Kroeker explained that the event gave students an idea of what it would be like to pursue a career in science.
“So it was really good for them to be exposed to people who work in the science field and to understand that there is an end goal here,” she said. “It’s not just theory, this is a career possibility. So we really liked having the judges come to share that.”