A flair for science
May 1, 2012
Roll over Beethoven, have you heard the news?
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- There's a new kid in town --274 to be exact -- all of whom submitted entries at the 31st Annual Virginia Piedmont Regional Science Fair held recently at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.
"Science fairs showcase the talents of America's next generation of scientists, engineers, researchers, inventors, and innovators, and I'm humbled and honored to be around such brilliant young people," said Col. Stephen C. Gomillion, Commander of the National Ground Intelligence Center, Charlottesville, Va. "When students excel in school and especially in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines they help support America's future needs".
The fact is, not enough students are seeking subjects like science, math, engineering and cyber technology Gomillion said. The President's Council of Advisors in Science and Technology recently reported that one million additional graduates with STEM degrees (Science, Technology. Engineering and Math) will be needed over the next decade to fill the growing number of jobs that require these skills.
"That's why it's so important for students become involved in these STEM programs as early as possible," said Gomillion who also served as a judge for the event. "The need for science and technology majors is in great demand across the nation as well as in our military. The future is bright for these young people, and if they remain on this course, their outlook will not dim."
The science fair is an opportunity for 6th -- 12th grade students in the Piedmont Region interested in the science and engineering fields to earn recognition and participate in an inspiring learning experience, said Brenda Kovarik, event assistant director and treasurer.
"I'm inspired by these budding young scientists because their creativity and innovation is awe- inspiring" said Kovarik, also a 7th grade life science teacher at Buford Middle School, Charlottesville, Va. "These students use science and technology to improve lives, increase their productivity, to expand their minds, and to find solutions to real-life questions, from improving sports equipment to finding environmentally-safe pesticides."
Innovators, creators, future surgeons and chemists are only a few of the rising stars present at the regional science fair that encompassed Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Greene, King George, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania, and Stafford counties.
Inspired by her love of sports, Kathlynn Lewis, 16, a junior at Albemarle High School, Charlottesville, Va., focused her project on the safety of field hockey players.
"As a goalie with the Albemarle High School field hockey varsity team, I'm always searching for ways to diminish the number injuries players may encounter on the field. That's where my research started," Lewis said. "I wanted to explore effective padding for uniforms that would prevent injuries and bruising but not impair motion, so I developed a system that nearly accomplished this goal but needs additional research."
Anna Pelto, 12, a 7th Grade student at King George Middle School, King George, Va., was up at 4 a.m. to make the 2-hour trek to this year's fair.
"I like science and want to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology specializing in premature births," said Pelto, whose project focused on face recognition in young children based on what was presented in the media. "This science fair is an opportunity for me to share my interest with others and learn the basics of research such as critical thinking, inquiry and investigative skills."
Science fairs foster imagination and creative thought, and help students develop organizational skills to work independently as well as in a group, said Tiffany Andrews a 7th grade life science teacher at Post Oak Middle School in Spotsylvania, Va.
"What excites me about events like this is seeing the excitement in the faces of our students when they've been selected to participate," Andrews said. "They employ all of their academic skills from English and grammar skills to communication and public speaking skills and everything in between when developing a science project. It's great to see the depth of creative innovation in our young people today."
While Andrews encourages students to participate in future science fairs, she says teachers have a vital role in nurturing a child's passion for science.
"As educators, we need to support our future engineers, inventors, and innovators and encourage them to find ways science fits into their daily lives," Andrews said. "America's future can be found in today's classroom, and from what I see today, our future is truly bright."
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