Soldiers, Marines judge middle school science fair
January 28, 2010
By Alex McVeigh
Five Soldiers and seven Marines from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall journeyed outside the gates Wednesday to judge a middle school science fair at nearby Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington. The school has a close relationship with the base, as it is where many middle-school age children of JBM-HH Families attend.
Service members joined almost 150 community members in judging the more than 450 different exhibits put on by the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students of Thomas Jefferson.
The experiments were as varied in scope as they were in topic: students tackled hypotheses including animal science, biochemistry, computer science, engineering, physics and astronomy.
Judges filled the bleachers in a corner of the gym before the fair, where they were briefed on the procedure for judging each project. The projects were presented on a three-sided cardboard display, and each student would stand by their project while the judges filed past.
Matt Hubbard, eighth grade science teacher and coordinator for the science fair, was very impressed with the turnout from the community, and JBM-HH in particular.
"It was an absolutely incredible turnout, we have judges from all over the community," Hubbard said. "We have a lot of students with parents serving at [JBM-HH], and they are always great about coming out and supporting our activities."
The science fair is something every student participates in every year, and faculty at Thomas Jefferson hope that every year the students learn from the previous year in expanding the scope of their projects.
Each project was judged by three different people, and Marines and Soldiers spent the next two hours wandering the gym, finding projects they were curious about. Each student presented a hypothesis, variables, results and a conclusion as part of their presentation, and judges were invited to talk to the students to get further details about the experiment.
Students tackled problems such as the light refraction from certain amounts of red Jell-O, which nail polishes chip the least, the effects of compression and tension on bridges, which soap produces the toughest bubbles, which hairspray holds curls the best and which hard household
surfaces were the strongest.
"One student had a reflexology study, where she tested the reflexes of boys versus girls, which was very interesting," said Marine Sgt. Christopher Herbert, of Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps Henderson Hall. "It seems like the experiments really helped the kids learn a lot."
As they wandered around the aisles, the service members found some displays interesting, and some were just plain practical.
"There was an experiment about which detergent was actually the strongest, and he showed us photos of shirt samples with different detergents at different temperatures and how effective they were," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jefferson Varner III, JBM-HH command sergeant major. "It
was very revealing. I think I'll have to start buying another brand."
JBM-HH has partnerships with several schools around the National Capital Region, and this was just one of the many events that Soldiers and Marines participate in throughout the school year.
"We always like getting out into the community," Varner said, "and it's
especially great to support our local schools."