Science Fair draws more than 180 entries

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lane Grimshel from Redwood Elementary shows off his working 4-cylinder engine at the Distict Science Fair.

Lane Grimshel from Redwood Elementary shows off his working 4-cylinder engine at the Distict Science Fair.

Lt. Col. John Tucker of the US Army Corps of Engineers milled between project boards filled with scientific theories involving potatoes, solar panels and greasy chips. Tucker was one of many volunteer judges inside the Beechwood Elementary School gym on hand Wednesday to oversee this year’s Vicksburg Warren School District science fair.

As Tucker walked among the aisles of hundreds of projects, he couldn’t help but smile at the idea of meshing science with hands-on experiments.

“You can tell that the kids are learning it and it’s good to see that they’re inspired,” he said. “In fact, the other kids are getting an opportunity to see the other projects and it kind of opens their eyes to what’s available out there.”

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More than 180 children participated in this year’s fair, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 25-26 in the Vicksburg Convention Center. But the science fair was forced to reschedule to Beechwood the following week due to inclement weather that hit Warren County and shut down all schools in the area.

Beechwood Elementary teacher Stacie Schrader, who oversaw this year’s event, said participation was slightly affected by the weather, but she was still excited about the turnout.

“Just seeing the kids, the smiles on their faces, especially when they win, is great,” Schrader said. “Hearing the judges say that they’re so impressed when they talk to the kids because of how smart they are and how they know their projects backward and forwards. That’s the best part, I think.”

Redwood Elementary School student Lane Grimshel didn’t place in the fair, but the 4-cylinder engine he built for his project was a hit among teachers, students and attendees.

“I got it for Christmas and my dad thought it would be a cool idea to use it for the science fair project,” Grimshel said.

Grimshel spent hours building the engine, which ran with a propeller slowly spinning on the front.

“If the timing was wrong, the lights wouldn’t really work in the right order,” Grimshel said. “I would say building it with my dad was the best part. I had to help my dad build and I like building stuff.”

According to teachers like Schrader, the science fair is a way to cultivate children’s interest in science with projects that spark their interest and allow them to nurture their curiosity.

“Aside from being hands on and learning that way, the biggest benefit is a lot of them are finding things that interest them,” she said. “I know with my own child, he really wants to be a scientist or an engineer, so that’s what his project was in. Letting them see different ways that science applies to their life I think is the best thing.”

For judges like Tucker, the real reward comes from watching young students grasp the knowledge needed to create a science project.

“Getting to see some of the kids with their projects and how they articulate, they’re really grasping the principles,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to see that.”