Refiner Claire Bucklin did an impressive job at the Regional Science Fair in Great Falls, wowing the judges and her peers with her experiment that earned her first place and grand award honors along with the opportunity to compete at the International Science Fair coming up in May in Atlanta, Ga.

“Through science fair, students realize that the skills they are learning do matter, have application in the real world beyond school, and that they are capable of great things.”

And that is just one major benefit of participating in science fairs, according to North Toole County science teacher, Amanda Nix. Participating in science fair not only utilizes the skills students are learning in science class, but in all their other courses as well. Researching, writing, creating tables and grafts and giving a presentation are just a few of the other skills developed in preparing for this event.

“Although it is a lot of work, students can tangibly see the results at the end and be proud of their efforts,” said Nix. “And unlike most class assignments, they can pick a topic that is of interest to them.”

There are plenty of topics to pick from and students in Sunburst took full advantage of that opportunity, with 10 high school students and 17 junior high (seventh and eighth grade) students picking topics and competing in this year’s Regional Science Fair held recently in Great Falls. The students began experimenting and collecting data in late February/early March, but the choosing of projects and the planning for their projects got underway at the beginning of the school year.

“Science fair is unique in the educational setting because it is one of the few opportunities that students have to work on a long-term project that combines skills they have been developing in most of their other classes,” explained Nix. “They have to research to come up with an idea and understand the topic, they have to write a research paper, develop a logical and scientifically sound plan, complete paperwork, learn how to use a variety of scientific tools, record their data, create tables and graphs, format materials in a variety of computer programs, understand their results (often through statistical analysis), create a visual display, and then formally present and discuss their efforts.”

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