By Lauren Fitch Kokomo Tribune
---- — 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.”
Twenty-nine high school students participated in the senior division. Other award winners were: Rachel Johns, Northwestern High School, second place, $700; Lauren Ward, NHS, third place, $500; Elizabeth Bolyard, NHS, fourth place, $400; Heather Wright, Eastern High School, fifth place, $300; Lee, sixth place, $250; Sharlene Lossing, NHS, seventh place, $200; Aaron Stanley, NHS, eighth place, $150; Alexander Jones, NHS, ninth place, $100; and Michael Embry, Kokomo Area Schools at Home, 10th place, $50.
Fifty-five elementary and middle school students participated in the junior division competition. The top five, in alphabetical order, are Kayla Bevington, Northwestern; Delaney Poer, Eastern; Addison Ream, Eastern; Amanda Wilson, Northwestern; and Tyler Wilson, Northwestern. Each received $100.
The rest of the top 10 in the junior division, in alphabetical order, were Allison Fenske, Kokomo Area Schools at Home; David Hoshaw, Acacia Academy; Megan Johnson, Eastern; Lauren Longshore, Northwestern, and Erin Matheney, Eastern. Each received $50.
After the Howard County science fair, students had another opportunity to show off their work at the regional science fair held at Ball State University the following weekend, Feb. 22.
The following area high school students placed in senior division categories:
• Behavioral science: first place, Alexander Jones, Northwestern High School; second place, Sharlene Lossing, NHS; and third place, Colton Pipenger, NHS.
• Botany: second place, Christian O’donnell, NHS.
• Environmental science: first place, Elizabeth Bolyard, NHS; second place, Nathan Chou, NHS; third place, Teng Lee, Kokomo High School.
• Medicine/health science: first place, Heather Wright, Eastern High School; second place, Drew Sullivan, NHS; and third place, Brent Bachman, EHS.
• Microbiology: second place, Michael Harshman, NHS; and third place, Abbigail Olsen, NHS.
• Physics: first place, Charles Doak, EHS; second place, Braden Chou, NHS; and third place, Jakob White, NHS. Honorable mention included Bengamin Evenson and Megan Hedges, both from EHS.
• Zoology: first place, Lauren Ward, NHS; second place, Victoria Combs, NHS; and third place, Zamir Latif, NHS.
Students who placed first in each category qualified for the state competition April 5 at IUPUI.
Teacher Linda Wilson was proud of how all the students competed, including three middle schoolers who qualified for the junior division state science fair: Kendall Bostic, Amanda Wilson and Kayla Bevington.
Jones’ sister inspired his first-place behavioral science project on the effectiveness of instruction for people with different learning styles.
“My sister has dyslexia so I wanted to find different ways for her to learn,” he said. “She does better with visual than verbal or written.”
Jones’ experiment issues visual, verbal and written directions for three different tasks to groups of children, teens and adults. He found that children learn best with visual instructions.
NHS students, who have won more than $1,550 from science fairs this year, said the most difficult part of working on the projects was the paperwork involved in getting release forms for subjects, tracking results and then writing a research paper.
“Not having a class [to work on the projects], you have to keep yourself organized and make your own schedule,” said senior Lauren Ward, who has entered science fairs all four years of high school.
Education reporter Lauren Fitch can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LaurenBFitch.