Community science fair fosters students’ interests

Science fair nurtures students’ interests

dgary@macon.comDecember 19, 2012 

Patrick Livatt, 11, beamed with excitement as he tested his “Tornado in a Bottle” project Saturday morning at the Hunt Educational & Cultural Center in Fort Valley.

Patrick, a sixth-grader at Fort Valley Middle School, was one of about 20 students who participated in the Community Applied Science Research Experience, a community science fair for elementary, middle and high school students.

“I think children have a misconception about science,” said Sarah Nottingham, co-organizer of the event. “I hope that participants will see a different side of something that they think just deals with school, and I hope this helps them apply it to everyday life.”

Alecia Livatt, 42, said her son has always been interested in science. He wants to become a meteorologist.

“I always tell him that whenever he gets a chance to practice, he should. I think the fair gives him the opportunity to see how his peers think, so he can improve.” Livatt said.

The idea for the community science fair developed after Nottingham’s daughter Ebony Nottingham, a junior biology and pre-medical major at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va., returned home from an environmental science internship with the University of Massachusetts. She received a full scholarship to Norfolk State and decided to use some of her scholarship money to fund the community initiative.

“I hope students will gain confidence in knowing that if I can do it, they can do it,” Ebony Nottingham said. “I don’t feel like students in this area are exposed to applying what they learned in school. They don’t think about a career in research because they think it’s too hard, or you have to be really smart to do it. They don’t feel like they are on that level.”

Madison Golphin, a sixth-grader at Fort Valley Middle School, enlisted the help of her mother, an agricultural engineer, to help her complete her project on how the water cycle affects the environment. It took Madison two weeks to put everything together.

“I found that every human being needs water to survive,” Madison said. The 12-year-old said she was not nervous about the project judging. “I’m excited. I want to teach people the importance of the water cycle,” she said.

Golphin placed first in the middle school division. Kamia Ridley, a fourth grader at Centerville Elementary School, placed first in the elementary division and Ankeithian Howell, a 10th-grader at Peach County High School, placed first in the high school division.

The science fair was judged by four Fort Valley State University professors. Each fair participant received a $25 Visa gift card, with the winner receiving special acknowledgment.

To contact writer Danyelle Gary, call 744-4347.

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