Reformed Science Fair Forces Eighth Graders to Adapt

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Amir Mason

In response to the widespread presence of COVID-19, Westminster has completely reformed the Science Fair in the hope of making it safe while upholding the same sense of excitement and enjoyment as before.  

In the past, the Science Fair took place on a Tuesday during the middle of the day with 400-500 parents, sixth and seventh graders, alumni, and many more attending. This year, Westminster cannot afford to invite a large group of viewers into the Middle School, so the school began brainstorming a new structure for the fair. The results? A virtual Science Fair, in which groups create a video of their virtual tri-fold with an explanatory voice-over. Additionally, rather than judges consisting of several alumni and teachers, only the 8th-grade science teachers will be selecting the projects to advance.

With these changes, students face many challenges, as creating these unorthodox virtual presentations during a pandemic is very tricky. “You really can’t work on it as well together,” Florence Sumner, 8th-grade science teacher and Science Fair judge, stated. “We [Eighth Grade Science Teachers] had to get permission from Mrs. Morton to even let them [eighth graders] work together, and the parents had to sign a paper saying it was OK for them to work at home. And they then had to follow Westminster’s protocols, mask and all, making it all the more difficult to work together.”

Nonetheless, the Science Fair still has the same basic features that made it a staple in the Physical Science curriculum to begin with. Even during a pandemic, students explore a diversity of topics as they continue to find more problems and issues in the world that they hope to solve. With their projects, participants can then advance from the local Westminster Science Fair all the way to the Global Science Fair, gaining recognition and awards along the way. The Science Fair has consequently become a vital element of the Middle School experience, consistently igniting the passion of many 8th graders in science and problem-solving. 

This year, students anticipate the date of November 18th for their presentations in eagerness of putting all their work to good use. 8th grader Bennett Abrams explains, “I am really looking forward to finally do my presentation because I have been eying it since I first saw [science fair projects] in 6th grade, and I can’t wait to explain my topic, wireless power transfer.”

By this means, the diligence and effort of 8th graders must not go unnoticed, as even in an altered Science Fair in which the odds are considerably stacked against them, they still put in the time to create the best projects possible.  It will be intriguing to see what innovative, and thought-provoking projects students develop, even with the Science Fair looking completely different.