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Friday, December 02, 2022

Hager students see science success

ASHLAND Two fourth-graders at Hager Elementary won a regional science and engineering fair at Northern Kentucky University.

Emma Hensley and Marlowe Layman Bohanon have worked since December on their projects. Hensley took a variety of snacks such as Ruffles, Cheetos and Baked Lays to see just how much grease was in each snack. Bohanon worked to determine the best way to plant seeds for them to grow fast.

Hensley thought the snack with the most grease would have been Cheetos, but Ruffles took the top spot. Though Cheetos was a very close second, she said. Hensley took the chips and crushed them on graph paper for a prescribed amount of time. Then she dusted the crumbs away and counted each square covered in grease. Crushing the chips was a highlight for Hensley.

She said the counting was the hardest part, and she counted more than 1,300 little squares. Her results showed the fat in the snacks. It allowed her to rank the most to least healthy snacks.

Bohanon found the best way to plant nasturtium seeds for quick growing. Nasturtium seeds are an annual flower. Teacher Jessica Howerton said Bohanon referred to her plants as her babies throughout the time she was growing them. The number of seeds she planted neared the triple digits.

She found the quickest sprouting seeds were those soaked for 24 hours, planted in a special soil and given extra light. The toughest part was tracking and charting the sprouts. She said she enlisted the help of her mom to make sure the sprouts were charted when she wasn’t home to do so.

The students smiled and giggled as they recalled what fellow students said about their projects. Hager Elementary hosted a fair with the fourth-graders. Other students toured the gymnasium with all of the projects and spoke with the students about their findings.

Bohanon and Hensley recalled the moment they found out they had won the science fair at Hager.

“I was literally writing the date on the board when she called my name and I was like, I was about to cry,” said Hensley. She also said she would have cried if she wasn’t a winner because she worked so hard and wanted to win.

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Bohanon recreated the face she made when she heard her name called. Her eyes grew wide, eyebrows shot up and her jaw dropped.

The Hager winners moved on to a district competition at Ashland Community and Technical College. The fair was virtual due to the pandemic. The students had to film themselves explaining their project, the process and their findings.

The Elementary School division included the fourth and fifth grades where Bohanon and Hensley won their category to move on to regionals. Hensley placed first in Biomedical and Behavioral Health Science and Bohanon was first in Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at both fairs.

Northern Kentucky University hosted Regionals. The region includes northeastern and northern counties in Kentucky. The two fourth graders won over fourth and fifth graders in the schools of 24 counties in the state.

The regional science fair was also virtual due to the pandemic, but was live. The students were interviewed by college professors about their projects.

Bohanon and Hensley said they were nervous heading into the interviews, but that was coupled with excitement. Hensley said she was excited to hear what questions she was going to be asked.

“It’s not just just them doing their projects and submitting everything,” said Howerton. “They actually had to know what they were doing, how they were doing it.”

Howerton said they were ready for each step of the process. They were prepared and knew everything about their projects. She praised their work ethic and their parents’ support of the process.

“I think it’s very important that students are involved in these type of activities, because it does give them confidence in their academics and what they’re doing,” said Howerton. “And it also incorporates fun and learning in school. I think it’s also awesome that being in fourth grade, they have already accomplished this much and now they know how much farther they can go as they get older and that hard work really does pay off .”

The young students excitedly spoke of their projects with passion and a wealth of knowledge. They demonstrated a great level of learning, but notably possessed the humility and grace to tell The Daily Independent where they missed the mark.

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“I messed up so many times,” Bohanon said with a laugh.

Winning at each of the region and district competitions was a surprise.

“That was shocking,” said Hensley. She didn’t think she’d win.

Both were very willing to share the questions they answered wrong during the interviews, and how they should have answered. The experience giving them valuable lessons along the way.

The students won’t head to the state level, like their middle and high school counterparts, but they are looking to continue experimenting and learning in the future.

They had no qualms about saying science isn’t actually their favorite subject. They hesitated for a moment. But Howerton encouraged them to be honest about their favorite subject, telling them it’s fine if they don’t say science.

They immediately ranked their subjects from favorite to least favorite. For Bohanon, math is her favorite and Hensley loves reading. When asked about if they see how their favorite subjects are both important for science, they said yes.

Hensley was frank, “social studies is my weak link,” and Bohanon agreed that it was on the bottom of her list too. However, Howerton said despite that, the girls do very well in school and are great students.

Science was among the top three for each of them, second for Bohanon and for Hensley. Hensley has dreams of being a dancer and singer, but if not she’d like to explore more in the health sciences. She learned a lot about choosing healthy foods with her project.

Bohanon looks forward to trying the process with different seeds. She said she’ll be helping her dad with planting soon, so she’s ready to learn more. She doesn’t know what she’d like to be when she grows up. However, she knows she wants to learn more.

As for what they would tell third graders who will participate next year, Bohanon said, “have fun, try your best.”

She said they may ask questions that are above your level, but to just answer as best you can. Hensley said have fun and agreed with Howerton that effort matters.

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