Forest Hills revives elementary school science fair

by | March 1, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: February 26, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Forest Hills Elementary School students Kaylynn Huskey, Caroline Magas and Savannah Ross, fresh off their first-place finish in the school’s Feb. 19 science fair, are now faced with a math problem.
The three fifth-graders’ science project, “Life in the Solar System,” earned them a medal and a $100 prize donated by Lowcountry Urgent Care’s newly established Teacher Giveback Program. Now they will have to figure out what to do with the one penny that remains when the first-place money is divided three ways.
While assessing the entrants, the three judges — Walterboro Police Chief Wade Marvin, Boeing Engineering Design Manager Katherine Laufenberg and Lowcountry Urgent Care Marketing Director Blake Knapp — said in the interview portion of the competition the girls showed that they enjoyed the research and were quick to respond to questions.
Second place, which included a $50 prize provided by Sentry Cleaners, went to fourth-grader Tula Hildebrand for her project “The Effects of Weathering on Different Minerals.”
Tula was unable to attend the science fair, but the judges, after viewing her display, said that the information she provided on the display answered the questions they would have asked her.
Third place went to fifth-grader Keller Reasonover for his project “Sprouts.” He sought the answer to the optimal amount of water need for plant growth.
Forest Hills math and science teacher James Carlisle said the science fair was open to all fourth- and fifth-grade students.  “It was completely optional and extracurricular. Other than having their teacher and parent sign off on their proposal, the entire project took place outside of school.  Some students had teacher mentors,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle also serves as president of the Young Scientists of South Carolina, www.YSoSC.org.
“We want to promote additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) opportunities in the Lowcountry and noticed that there had not been a science fair at Forest Hills Elementary in over nine years and, with rare exceptions, there had not been any at the other schools,” Carlisle explained. “I pushed this one with the intent of priming the pump. The goal of Young Scientists of South Carolina is to have a larger science fair next year at Forest Hills and then the following year, I would like to have one in all of the elementary schools of the area with a district-level championship round.
“My ultimate goal is to move on to regional, state and national science fair competitions,” Carlisle said. “None of this is possible without the support of each of the schools.   The administration at Forest Hills Elementary was very supportive of this first effort.”
Young Scientists of South Carolina, a non-profit, has been busy.
The organization sponsors one of the FIRST LEGO League robotics teams (fourth through eighth grades) that is not part of the schools.   “We would like to sponsor two more of these teams next year and are looking for locations to host the team and coaches to mentor the team. Coaches don’t have to know anything about robotics,” Carlisle said.
In the 2020-2021 school year, the group would like to fund a FIRST Robotics Challenge team (6-12 grades) at the high school. These teams use very large robots to compete in a game against other robots. “We have also begun to explore sponsoring FLL Jr. teams (1-4 grades) in each of the elementary schools of the county.
“We built a Stream Table for fifth-grade science teachers to use to demonstrate erosion and deposition,” Carlisle said. “We would love to build one for each of the schools of the district if we can find the funding.”
The group helped sponsor the middle school field trip to Edisto Beach for the beach cleanup and brought the South Carolina Aquarium Rovers to the elementary school as an alternative to the costly field trip.
On May 4 from 5-8 p.m., Young Scientists of South Carolina will host a community-level event at the Elks Lodge that includes fun and entertainment. “It will enable us to introduce ourselves to the community and maybe even raise a little funding,” Carlisle said.
The event will culminate with the fifth-grade students of Forest Hills Elementary launching a near-space sensor array to try and answer their question from the beginning of the year: “Is it cold in outer space?”

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