Sr. Joanne LaFreniere, Mater Christi School
Mater Christi School in Burlington held its annual science fair on the last day of school before winter vacation. Judges of the fair spent most of the preceding days that week conversing with grade 6, 7 and 8 students about their projects and experiments.
The posters, although important, were not the main criteria used by the judges to determine outstanding work. This was done by listening to the students as they explained their hypotheses and defended the outcome of their efforts. In some cases, students admitted that they had discovered that what they had assumed to be the fact about a given situation, after putting it to the test (in some cases for several months), was not true. These conclusions did not affect the way judges determined who deserved to be awarded. In fact, in some cases proving oneself wrong was a plus in the judges’ criteria, since it showed the learning curve of the youngsters throughout the time spent on trying to prove their stance on the topic.
A majority of the themes touched on some current-day problems that science is attempting to solve. These topics included wind energy, Wi-Fi signals, lake pollution, texting and crash test dummies, physical fitness, and solar energy.
After their assessment of the entries, the judges expressed their appreciation to Mark Pendergrass, grades 6–8 science teacher, for being invited to interact with the students.
Not surprisingly, both teacher and students went into their winter break with a real sense of accomplishment.