Eastern High School senior Megan Hedges’ willingness to play with fire paid off when she won the 50th annual Howard County science fair.
Indiana University Kokomo hosted the fair on Feb. 15, drawing more than 80 young scientists to show off their projects. Hedges’ exhibit on “manipulating flames with alternating current” included two metal plates and a lit candle set up between them. Her initial goal was to be able to put out the flame by running an alternative current through the plates, though her experiment proved the area of the flame could be reduced but not completely extinguished.
“I didn’t expect to win anything. You look around at all the cool projects there,” said Hedges, who received $1,000 for her first place finish. “I was really surprised. I couldn’t believe it for at least a half hour after.”
Students begin working on their science fair projects as early as August, said Ben Cox, a science teacher at Eastern High School who accompanied Hedges to the fair. Hedges’ project, which proved more difficult than she expected, inspired her to pursue electrical engineering in college.
“My favorite part is seeing them grow in their ability to think things through,” Cox said. “It’s neat to see them own their idea. They have more at stake [at the science fair] than other times.”
IUK faculty volunteered as judges at the Howard County science fair and also led sessions throughout the day.
Kokomo High School junior Teng Lee went through a lot of trial and error in designing a device that uses wool to clean oil spills out of a body of water. His project ultimately earned him sixth place at the Howard County science fair.
“I learned that you have to be organized and be prepared for anything,” he said. “In my project, I had to design a system, which I found a lot of problems with and had to make adjustments.”