The Sun News

Two Houston students advance to state Social Studies Fair

WARNER ROBINS — Two students from Houston County are headed Saturday to the state Social Studies Fair in Hampton.

Zoe Holloway, a seventh-grader at Bonaire Middle School, and Melanie Wood, a fifth-grader at Sacred Heart Catholic School, both earned their way to the state fair by winning first place honors at the regional fair held recently in Columbus.

Holloway was inspired by an episode of “The Oprah Show” for her project, In the Zone, an in-depth look at the Blue Zone areas of the Earth.

Blue Zones are regions of the Earth where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100. Scientists have classified these areas by common healthy traits and life practices. Among those regions are Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, Calif.; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Ikaria, Greece.

Holloway demonstrated in her project the common denominators shared by these areas, which are eating until you are 80 percent full; drinking red wine in moderation; eating more vegetables and less protein; making family as a priority; feeling like you have a purpose in life; belonging to a causative social network like a book club; believing in a higher being and exercising.

Holloway has started implementing some of the denominators into her own life, such as increasing her exercise.

She has also committed herself to getting the word out about Blue Zones and challenging Warner Robins residents to make the city a Blue Zone.

“I am starting by just telling people about the Blue Zone and the denominators, and asking them to pass the information along,” Holloway said.

She said the most amazing part was the quality of life the people in Blue Zones have.

“They are not just old,” she said. “They are old people that are climbing mountains, riding bicycles. They are active.”

Holloway first submitted her project to the Houston County Science Fair, where she earned third place. She then was encouraged to enter it into the Houston County Social Studies Fair. Holloway plans on expanding her project for next year and doing more research on Blue Zones.

Wood’s project, Geographical Literacy: Where in the World?, was a study of the geographical knowledge of Americans ages 18-24.

Wood used a survey by the National Geographic Society as well as her own. She learned the majority of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed could not pick out Iraq, Afghanistan or Indonesia on a map. Maybe even scarier is that they also could not pick out the states of New York or Ohio.

“People need to know where these places are,” Wood said. “We have troops going to Afghanistan and Iraq, and then we have people thinking these countries are near the United States.”

Wood was assigned the geography topic by her teacher, but focusing on the literacy side was her idea.

“I just think people need to know about the world,” she said. “We have a global economy, and it is important that we know about each other.”

Wood said one of the most interesting facts she learned was that the number one spoken language on the planet is Mandarin Chinese.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or