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New way to churn ice cream
Students bring science into their lives
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Bradwell science teacher Tonya Dill gestures toward Joseph Martin third-grader Walker Burns automated ice cream churns. - photo by Danielle Hipps

You may trust the marketing claims that Lysol kills 99.9 percent of bacteria, but at least one Liberty County fourth-grader is a bit more skeptical.

Button Gwinnett Elementary School’s Shari Sheppard was among seven winners of the Liberty County Schools district-wide science fair this year. Her project tested the presence of bacteria on items cleaned with household products.

The fair, with about 30 entries from grades two through five and seven and eight, was the first district-wide competition years, according to district curriculum specialists Susan Norce and Susan Avant.

“We thought the science fair would be a way to get students interested and excited about science and involved in science,” Norce said, adding that the fair was reintroduced to coincide with science becoming an additional indicator for Adequate Yearly Progress standards.

Since Georgia was one of 10 states to receive a federal waiver from AYP, that indicator no longer stands. However, under the new performance index, student performance in all core areas becomes a factor.

“We need to bring science to the forefront, and we need to improve our scores,” Norce said.

According to 2011 preliminary CRCT scores, LCSS fourth- and fifth-graders performed above the state average for science, but those in other grades did not perform as well.

Administrators have tossed around the idea of a fair for quite some time, but Norce said planning for this year’s fair did not begin until January.

“We’ll see how well this goes and then look at expanding it next year,” Norce said. “Hopefully, next year we’ll look at doing it in the first part of the school year so our winners can go on to regional and state competitions.”

The high schools chose not to participate because students enrolled in fall science classes would not have had the same opportunity to complete, she said.

School participation was optional. To qualify, participating schools had to comply with the district standards for their school-level fairs, Norce said.

Seven judges evaluated the projects Thursday night. Community judges included Jennifer Darsey and Donna DeLoach, Steve Sikes and Barry Wilkes. Bradwell Institute school science teachers Sharyl Eastlake, Tonya Dill and Thomas Thornton also judged.
Dill and Eastlake judged as a pair and joked that they wanted to request some of the students for their future classes.

“We’re excited that they’re thinking scientifically at such a young age,” Eastlake said. “And they’re using appropriate scientific inquiry to solve problems … This helps them to ask questions and make observations.”

District science fair winners
Judges at the LCSS district-wide science fair chose one winner from each participating grade level.

Winners were:
Second: Hampton Jackson, Frank Long
Third: Tallyah Dixon, Button Gwinnett
Fourth: Shari Sheppard, Button Gwinnett
Fifth: Vivian Mullis, Taylors Creek
Seventh: Tiana Besant and Semorea Bacon, Snelson-Golden
Eighth: Ty Coles, Snelson-Golden

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