MONARCH — Their study of the scientific method of inquiry and how to apply it in their lives helped three Monarch Elementary School students win honors at this year’s Piedmont Region III Science Fair.
The fair, which is held annually on the USC Upstate campus, brings together public, private, and home school students from Cherokee, Spartanburg, Union, and York counties in scientific competition. The competition is divided into the academic categories of Elementary (grades 1-4), Middle (grades 4-8) and Secondary (grades 9-12). Students compete in the disciplines of behavioral and social science, biology, chemistry, general science, math and computer science, and physics.
Rhonda Hollingsworth, a second grade teacher at Monarch Elementary School, said this week that the school has been competing in the science fair for 20 years. In this year’s fair, which was held Feb. 20-23, Hollingsworth said that Kayley Jane Addis, a fifth-grader at MES, won the National Audubon Society Award while fellow fifth-grader Sydney Childers won Second Place in Physics and first-grader Emma Garner received Honorable Mention in the Elementary division.
Hollingsworth said the students’ involvement in the fair grew out of their study of the scientific method of inquiry at school and how to apply in their lives.
“Every child, K through five, is taught the scientific method,” Hollingsworth said. “It is a hands on approach to solving problems and we want them to learn this method in school. We want them to apply it to all areas of their lives.
“Third- through fifth-graders are required to enter a project into our school science fair,” she said. “K through two has the option of entering the science fair. Every child in grades three through five comes up with a research question and then meets with the teacher individually and decides if the question is testable. It is also an option for K through two students. Once the question is approved, the student starts the inquiry.”
For Addis, that question was “Will wild birds eat more chicken scratch or bird seed?”
Addis said when she set out bird seed at home she noticed the birds would only eat certain kinds of bird seed. She said somebody told her to put out chicken scratch for the birds and so she decided to see which the birds would eat more of. Addis said she put out two containers, one with chicken scratch and one with bird seed. She did this for five days in a row, recording her observations in a journal and used pictures and graphs to record her findings. Addis said she determined that the birds ate more of the bird seed and so she knows now to keep putting out bird seed.
For Childers, the question was “How many veins does it take to get the most accurate shot with a bow and arrow?”
Childers said her father assisted her with her project by shooting an arrow at a target, adding a vein to the arrow each time. She said her father shot the arrow 10 times and she used a bar graph to record the data she collected. Childers said she’d predicted that three veins would be the most accurate. She said this is what her father uses and it usually works. Childers said that while it was close between two veins and three veins, the arrow with three veins got the closest to the center of the target, thus confirming her hypothesis.
For Garner, the question was “Will adding weight to my fishing line effect how far I cast my fishing rod?”
Garner said she had problems casting her fishing rod and wondered if she added weight to it if it would go farther. She added the weight and it went farther, proving her hypothesis.
Hollwingsworth said the MES students that enter the regional competition are those who have won either first or second place in the school’s science fair. She said the school’s science fair always draws a large number of student participants.
“When we host our science fair we have judges from outside our school,” Hollingsworth said. “We have an average of 200 projects entered in our school fair every year.”
Hollingsworth said participation in the fair is not surprising since science is so much a part of students’ lives beyond the classroom.
“It motivates children because children love science, it is part of their world,” Hollingsworth said. “Everything from watching butterflies to learning about electricity. Science opens up students’ minds.”
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