Inquiring minds want to know
SOLON– Students in Solon High School’s Biology and Scientific Inquiry course put theory into practice at this fall’s high school science fair.
A mandatory requirement for the students, 97 freshmen and sophomores launched experiments of a scientific nature in order to participate in the event. The goals include choosing and conducting an experiment independently, communicating and defending the results in a public forum to adults in the scientific community, and manage a long-term project.
“Students work on generating a research question at high school level or above, complete background research on their topic, design the experiment, complete a trial run to work out the details and make adjustments,” said Solon High School science instructor Dawn Posekany. “They conduct the experiment, make formal data tables and graphs, write a discussion of the results while considering variation in data and identifying the trend(s), reflect on errors, and make improvements.” Students must also identify potential further studies and create a display board to present at the fair.
The event is also a competition, as judges identify the top three students with the best project and presentation. This year’s winners were: first place, Eva Platz, for “The effect of X-ray radiation on the gender of C. Elegans worms;” second place, Dillon Drake, for “The effect of angle of a knee and the strength of the muscle on the strain of the model knee;” and third place, Caleb Asprey:, for “The effect of temperature on catalase activity.”
After the high school competition, Posekany said students are encouraged to enter the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair in Cedar Rapids, or the state Science and Technology Fair of Iowa held in Ames. Any student can enter those events as well.
Judges for the science fair come from Solon and the surrounding communities, and most have science related experience or backgrounds, from college professors to university students and other professionals.
“Fairs would not be possible without our volunteer judges,” said Posekany.
Solon Math/Science Boosters supports scholarships for each fall and spring science fairs, with students receiving $100 for first place, and $50 for second and third places, awarded at Senior Awards Night.
Posekany provided some history on the event, nothing this is the 14th year Solon High School has held a science fair since its inception in Bennett Brown’s physics class. Numerous students have participated the regional and state fairs, and three students from Solon High School–Joseph Hove, Cameron Gross, and Chase Gross– have qualified for and attended the International Science Fair.
“To me, the science fair is an invaluable experience. Not only does it help students understand the nature of science, but it also shows their individual strengths and weaknesses,” said Posekany. A science fair project is more about the process of science instead of a focus on content, she added.
“At least once during the project students are faced with challenges that result in experiencing some frustration. It is at these times students learn the most; the importance of resourcefulness, how to persevere and be resilient, and the value of asking for help. These are the lessons I hope will stay with them.”
Science fairs also highlight and reward students for their academic achievements, she said.
“Students must apply concepts from language arts, math, and other areas of study throughout the project. This provides an opportunity for our community to see the high quality work our students can produce in the academic arena,” Posekany concluded.