DOBSON — Three Surry Early College students will test their science projects against a world of challengers.
In May, Early College students Jessica Frost, Dannis Cazarez and Cortland Hardy will head to Los Angeles, California, to compete in an international science fair.
According to the students, the fair, which is set to take place the week after Mother’s Day, will include science projects created by more than 1,700 students from 70 countries.
The projects of the three students were among 12 projects chosen at the recent state science fair to go on display at the international event.
“The judges chose the 12 projects that would do best at the international fair,” explained Cortland.
As part of Jessica’s project in the field of chemistry, she made aspirin from the wintergreen plant. The senior said the larger effect of her project is a new approach to teaching organic chemistry.
The project Dannis and Cortland will take to Los Angeles is in the area of behavioral sciences. The pair of juniors examined how different personality types perform on standardized testing, and they found introverted people generally do better. The pair tested 120 students in Surry and Yadkin counties.
In addition to being named to the international event, Cortland and Dannis took second place at the state science fair in their division. Jessica also snagged the runner-up slot in her division. Both projects earned first place in their divisions at the regional level.
While the three attend the Early College, they said competing in science fairs isn’t part of their mandatory coursework.
“We did it on our own time,” said Cortland. “We had seven 3-inch binders filled with research.”
That stated, Surry County Schools communications director Sonia Dickerson noted the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum in place for the past five years has helped prepare the students to be successful in their science fair participation.
“The habits of mind developed by students in their science courses such as problem-solving and critical thinking better prepare them for entering the 21st-century job force,” said Dickerson. “The goal of science education is having students engaged in inquiry-based instruction so they can develop a conceptual understanding needed for college and career.”
Robin Narehood, a chemistry instructor at SCC who worked with the students, said she was proud of the three, and she is also glad to see science fair participation growing among the ranks of high school students.
“There were more high school projects at regionals than ever,” said Narehood in explaining interest in science fair often dwindles as children age into their teen years.
She noted Jessica, Dannis and Cortland have put a lot of time and effort into their experiments, and they have also fine-tuned their communication skills. They have gotten a little better at explaining their projects to judges at each step of the way on their path to May’s international science fair.
Cortland noted the competition will be stiff, and judges will be assessing the 1,700 or more projects over a couple days of judging.
A number of organizations affiliated with the science fair will pay the way of each competitor, and there will be a little time for fun during the week-long adventure.
Though there are events associated with the science fair every day, the students said they will have opportunities to hit the streets of L.A. — with adult supervision — to do some sight-seeing.
“We are extremely proud of their work and their abilities to think scientifically, to collect and synthesize data and communicate their findings to an audience of their peers and the science community,” said Jill Reinhardt, Surry County Schools assistant superintendent. “We wish them much success in their travels and in this next level of competition.”
• Not only is Dannis competing in this science event, the rising senior is one of five SCS students who will participate in Governor’s School this summer; she will focus on social sciences.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.