Students place in state science fair

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

A group of Yazoo County Middle School Students recently participated in a statewide science fair at Jackson State University, where two of the students were State Finalists in the categories of engineering and robotics.

Alli Ammons won 2nd Place in Mississippi for her engineering project about bridges, and Layne Grey won 4th Place in Mississippi with his robotics project that created its own artwork.

According to Melanie Hardy, the Science Fair coordinator at Yazoo County Middle School, all students are required to complete a science fair board, write a research paper, and present their projects to their peers in the science classroom.  From there, students are chosen to compete at the school level fair.

"Students are allowed to choose projects from 13 different categories recognized by the state level fair, and must get approval from their teachers before beginning work on their projects," said Hardy. "We encourage students to choose projects that pique their interests so it will be an enjoyable process."

Hardy said that students at Yazoo County Middle School are introduced to the scientific method early in the school year.  After that, the students practice using the scientific method in classrooms and labs at the middle school. 

"Once we feel confident that the students are familiar with the process, we send home informational packets outlining the requirements of the science fair," Hardy said. "We work closely with the students and parents as the need arises, but the bulk of the project is done at home with parental supervision."

The Yazoo County Middle School Science Fair took place in the month of January.  Hardy said that winners from the school level fair were able to move on to regional science fair which was held at Delta State University in March.  After their success at the regional science fair, eight students from Yazoo County Middle School earned the right to attend the Mississippi Science Fair, held at Jackson State University on April 5.

Two students from Yazoo County Middle School were state finalists, after competing against many other students from across Mississippi. 

Alli Ammons, a seventh grade student at the middle school, entered her project "Mighty Bridges" into the engineering category at the State Science Fair. 

"I built a Warren Truss bridge and a King Truss bridge and saw which one would hold the most weight," said Ammons. "I put soup cans and peanut butter cups on them, and the Warren Truss bridge held the most weight."

Ammons said that the most challenging part about her project was building the model bridges using only straws, tape, and hot glue. 

She said that she enjoyed her experience with this project because she was able to learn how to build a bridge and test how much weight it could hold.

Ammons was a success at the school level, and moved up to compete at the regional state fair, where she won second place as well. 

"I made it to the state level by doing my project by myself and using an original idea," said Ammons. "I learned that you need to try your hardest at anything you do, so you can make it farther."

She added that the best part about the state fair experience was that she had time to explore other projects created by other students, as well as present her own project in front of judges and spectators. 

"Alli is the highest placing person we have ever had from our school district, and it was the highest win any student from YCMS has ever achieved." said Hardy,

Layne Grey, also a 7th grade student at the middle school, participated in the robotics and intelligent design category with his project, "Robo-Artist".

Grey created a robot using household items and a small snap-circuit motor kit.

"Basically, you take a battery and hook it to a motor, and the motor is attached to a cup with Popsicle sticks so it is off balance," said Grey. "You take the caps off some markers that you hook to the bottom, and you set it on paper. Whenever you turn the battery on, it bounces, and it makes drawings and patterns."

Grey said that while it only took him "about five minutes" to build his robot, the most challenging part was getting his motor to stabilize.

Grey Robo-Artist was such a success that he easily moved up into the regional fair, where he won the First place prize in the robotic engineering category, which included a medal and a certificate.

"It was cool because this was my first time going past the school level," said Grey. "I demonstrated the project so people could watch it make drawings."

Grey said that the state science fair was much harder and that the judges asked him a lot more questions.

"It feels pretty good that I got fourth in the state," said Grey. "I saw some challenging projects that other people did."

 Grey said that this experience taught him a lot about building robots, something he had never done before, and he plans to continue more projects like it. 

"Next year I plan to build a homemade printer," he said.

Both students said that more kids should participate in science fairs, too.

The teachers and administrators plan to keep encouraging students to compete in academic events such as these.

"We have some amazingly talented and intelligent children at Yazoo County Middle School," said Hardy. "My heart soars with pride to see them on the local, regional, and state levels with projects that utilize the concepts we teach them about each day."

Virginia Ables, principal of Yazoo County Middle School, congratulated the students on their success.

"We are so proud of our State Science Fair winners as they not only earn recognition at the State level, but consistently increase their science knowledge from superb Science teachers at the Yazoo County Middle School," Ables said.

Hardy said that the eight students that participated in the state science fair will be given the opportunity to present their projects at the next Yazoo County School Board Meeting.