St. Francis 6th-grader takes top science award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rett Verhine is the man when it comes to science fairs. For the third time in four years, Rett was judged Wednesday to have the best project in Warren County, competing Wednesday with 160 students from 11 schools.

“I won it last year when I was in fifth grade and when I was in third grade,” said the 11-year-old, now a sixth-grader at St. Francis Xavier Academy.

This year, his project consisted of two crawfish walking through a maze. The experiment was to see which direction each would take if either its right or left antenna was taped down.

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He said when the right antenna was taped, the crawfish would walk to the left, and go in the opposite direction when the left was taped.

Students from kindergarten through the sixth grade competed in the science fair at Vicksburg Auditorium Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fair coordinator Terry Guynn said judges voted unanimously for Verhine’s project.

“It’s totally (the judges’) decision. They only know the participants by number,” she said. “Some of the kids take the research beyond their project. He must be really good.”

Katherine Walker, science fair facilitator, said she believes Rett has learned the scientific process.

“He obviously worked hard and learned the procedures for doing it,” Walker said.

His trophy again was donated by the 412th Engineer Command.

Rett, the son of Scott and Cathi Verhine of Vicksburg, also won first place in the zoology category.

Projects were arranged back-to-back on tables showing what the students had learned and developed for about two months.

Marcus Davis of the Warren County Extension Service judged Earth, space and environmental science. He said the project that stood out most to him was Sift, Weigh and Display: How Soil Changes, which won St. Francis sixth-grader Charlie Dove first place.

“The young man traveled to Maryland. In several states, he gathered soils from Vicksburg to Maryland. Then at Christmas, he traveled from Vicksburg to Florida and collected soils from several states in-between,” said Davis.

“I sifted through them, weighed them and graphed them, said Charlie, the 11-year-old son of Richard and Linda Dove. “The Northern states have lots of angular rocks the same size. Southern states have round rocks and dirt.”

Lt. Col. Daniel George from the 412th and Valencia Loyd, a Mississippi State University student co-opting with Vicksburg District, commended St. Francis sixth-grader Katelyn Brock on her work with her first-place project “What Pet is for You?”

“She was actually trying to get animals into homes,” Loyd said.

George said he was impressed with how the participants were able to relate their projects to real world experiences.

Katelyn, 12, daughter of Jane and Carl Brock of Vicksburg, said she created her project to see which pet would be adopted first and how many would be adopted.

“The cats were adopted first, and only one of the dogs was adopted,” Katelyn said.

Participants who will advance to the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair Region II at Jackson State University on March 23-24 will compete against students from Claiborne, Copiah, Hinds, Jefferson, Madison and Rankin counties.

The winners

District science fair victors:

Fourth through sixth:

• Rett Verhine, St. Francis, grade 6, best in show, zoology

• Nicholas Crasta, 10, Vicksburg Intermediate, grade 5, chemistry

• Madison Willis, 9, St. Francis, 4, botany

• Christopher Farrish, 9, Beechwood, 4, biochemistry

• Caleb Larsen, 10, St. Francis, 4, microbiology

• Alex Velazquez, 10, Bowmar, 5, physics

• Raymond Young, 10, Warren Central Intermediate, 5, medicine and health

• Dale Griffith, 12, St. Francis, 6, engineering

• Charlie Dove, 11, St. Francis, 6, earth, space and environmental science

• Katelyn Brock, 12, St. Francis, 6, behavioral and social sciences

Kindergarten through third:

• Tyler Smith, 7, Bowmar Elementary, 1, best in show, zoology

• Elizabeth Keen, 7, St. Francis, 2, behavioral and social science

• Anastasia Tower, 7, Sherman Avenue Elementary, 2, biochemistry

• Darius Burell, 6, Dana Road Elementary, K, botany

• Claire Jamison, 9, St. Francis, 2, chemistry

• Benjamin Lobred, 8, St. Francis, 2, earth, space and environmental

• Joshua Hallberg, 8, Redwood Elementary, 2, engineering, computers and math

• Nathan Mosley, 7, Dana Road, 2, medicine and health

• Mattie Carlyle Derivaux, 9, St. Francis, 3, microbiology

• Victoria Gong, 8, St. Francis, 2, physics

Contact Tish Butts at