James Clemens Science Fair gives worthy venue to elementary students
MADISON – The Science National Honor Society members will apply a simple, direct goal for the 2023 James Clemens Science Fair – give younger students an outlet to get excited about science.
“’Doing science’ doesn’t have to be limited in what it can look like. We are excited to have such a broad event where they can gain experience researching, creating or experimenting,” Emily L. Harris said. She teaches chemistry I and II at James Clemens. (Chemistry and biomedical teacher Laura Phillips co-sponsors Science National Honor Society.)
Attracting 100-plus contestants, the fair on Feb. 18 is open to students in grades K-8. Students will represent all elementary and middle schools in Madison City Schools, along with a few home-school students.
“We hope fostering an early enjoyment of science will lead to lifelong learners and problem-solvers,” Harris said. Regardless if students enter STEM careers, science allows them to tap into beneficial skills in their chosen path.
Science society students want individuals to use science to do good in the world. The teenagers are inspiring the next generation by planning the fair, mentoring projects and handling logistics. The fair also creates “a stronger vertical connection between families of younger students and their future high school experience,” Harris said.
Contestant Nathan Pickens, a kindergartner at Columbia Elementary School, researched elements, like sodium and potassium, in common snacks. Aarav Bhaskar and Vivaan Kulkarni, second-graders at Mill Creek Elementary School, collaborated on solar/lunar eclipse models.
This science fair offers two competition categories: “Exploration” to research scientific topic or present a project, and “Experimentation” to conduct experimental research to answer a scientific question.
For 2023, two classes of participation are open:
* Competition — Judges will evaluate a project, which is eligible for awards.
* Exhibition – Judges do not evaluate projects, allowing less pressure on students.
James Clemens’ event will offer a higher level for students who enjoyed their school’s fair or “have a natural hunger for learning and curiosity as to how things work,” Harris said.
By participating, students can “unleash their creativity (with) very few restrictions on project topics and categories. (They) see how science is connected to everyday life,” Harris said. Projects can foster family togetherness because of parental support. Students also gain experience in public speaking and presentations.
“Early, positive science experiences can help promote future science pathways as students continue to grow throughout their schooling and careers,” Harris said.
“I enjoy giving back to the community (and) creating experiences for both high school and elementary students. It’s rewarding to help the high-school students as elementary students take steps forward in their science journey,” Harris said.
At 2022’s fair, COVID-19 prohibited residents from interacting with students. This year, James Clemens welcomes everyone during the two-hour public exhibition to discuss projects with students.