Friday, February 8, 2019

Emilia's science project advanced to Region!

This time Emilia got the chance to present her science research at the district level, where she competed against students from 13 other elementary charter schools in the county (76 elementary projects total).

She had to stand by her board for five hours, ready to answer judges interview questions. The interviews lasted 15 minutes each. Because of the duration of the interviews, the judges were able to gather an in-depth understanding of her research process and offer suggestions on how to improve her study.

One thing we found out is that as long as she doesn't change her hypothesis and conclusion, Emilia is allowed to run the study again before her state competition based on the constructive advice provided by the judges.  How I wished I would have been allowed to listen in on what they said!

Emilia ran her experiment three times on different days. One feedback was to run three experiments concurrently to keep the variables more consistent. Which we will be doing before we go to the University of Utah Science and Engineering Regional Fair (USERF). USERF is the highest competition level for science in the state at the elementary school level.

Emilia's science teacher is on maternity leave, so we have had to learn as we go by looking at what other students have done at the competitions and adopting those practices we thought would improve Emilia's presentation. 

For example, we included a UV light that Emilia uses to show how her beads change color when exposed to the sun.  People who walked by would stick the bag of beads and see them change color instantly. That was a great conversation starter about her study.

At the award ceremony, the MC explained the scholarship opportunities available to students who pursue scientific research and advance to compete at the national and international level. He compared their work to what athletes do to compete for sports scholarships.

I love the opportunities and enthusiasm he showed the kids. My only objection to his point is that there are no official science classes, training and leagues readily available to kids like there are for sports or even music. Or, if there are, they are expensive and not community based.

What I have loved most about this unexpected opportunity Emilia received, is the growth and learning she is experiencing. As an eleven year old, presenting and explaining her research to adults she doesn't know, is something that would have brought me stress. Instead, she is excited to talk about what she has discovered and is already talking about what kind of study she wants to conduct next year.


There were seven other APA students who advanced to the next level, which will make USERF a lot more fun for Emilia.