By: Shannon Mann
After five years of being the lone Johnston County school to host a local science fair, and participating three years at the NC 3A Regional Science and Engineering Fair in Durham, a Neuse Charter School intermediate academy student walked away with top honors at this year’s regional competition.
James Evans, a Neuse Charter 7th grade student, won first place in the Junior Technology Division of the NC 3A Regional Science and Engineering Fair. He was named a Broadcom MASTERS nominee.
Broadcom MASTERS designates a project among the top 10% of middle school science fair projects in the United States. Finalists compete at the national level for prizes ranging from $3,500 to $25,000.
“Broadcom MASTERS is huge,” said Wendy Dunn, Neuse Charter School science fair coordinator. “I’m so proud of these kids and the fact that we have numerous students who continue to compete at a high level.”
James was a second year veteran of the regional science fair and advanced as a second place winner from his school’s science fair which was held in November 2017. His project compared which age groups
prefer which animation styles. “I put a lot of hard work into this and now I got what I wanted,” James said. This is a good learning experience for anyone and it can help you with things you want to do later in life, like get a scholarship for college.”
James competed alongside another regional science fair veteran in the technology division, his brother Joseph. Joseph, also a 7th grader, walked away with a trophy and cash prize from IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) for his entry on “Convention or Invention” which compared modern dual axes of motion design against a new design which also used two axes.
“I used multiple variables to determine what axes of motion was more efficient,” said Joseph. While Joseph didn’t walk away with top honors in his category, he was excited for his brother, and encouraged others to compete in Durham. “It’s a fun experience,” he said.
With entries like this you might think there was a lot of parental oversight and guidance, but the twins’ mom, Allison Evans, took a very hands-off approach in coaching her young sons this year.
“My first piece of advice is for kids to choose something they are interested in,” said Evans. She explained how James loved animation and his project was a natural extension of his passion. She said she realizes that parents can often be intimidated by science fairs if that isn’t their background, but that children are capable of doing it on their own.
“That was my number one rule this year, “”I am not helping!,”” Evans said. “All of us want our children to succeed. It is painful to watch our kids lose or fail,” she said. “But even their failures become their successes because they learn from their mistakes. They do not however, learn from ours.”
Nine other Neuse Charter students representing early and intermediate academies competed in Durham as well. The 3A Science Fair is one of the largest in the state boasting more than 300 students from more than 50 schools in 12 different counties.
Participants not only interacted with judges in the hopes of obtaining a coveted spot at the state science fair held in March in Raleigh, but they also got the chance to interact with the public and local, state and national scientists from North Carolina’s many institutes of higher learning, government agencies and private sector businesses.
Makenzie Simonson, Annabelle Guyder and Michael Ortiz, all 6th grade students, competed in the Junior Division as well.
Ortiz and Simonson were novices to the competition, but Guyder participated last year. Guyder and Ortiz worked as a pair on a delicious idea involving chocolate.
“Everyone should compete in a science fair,” said Guyder. “You learn a lot about your project, how to do research and you get to see other students’ projects.”
Simonson examined what type of beverages stain teeth. She tested various liquids against the shells of hard boiled eggs. “I worked on this experiment for three days and every day I observed any changes in my eggs.”
After an official welcome and formal judging, students participated in STEM activities and listened to national speakers on the topics of biomedical engineering (tissue regeneration) and environmental sciences (what Greenland and mosquitos have in common).
Neuse Charter School represented Johnston County well and its students were great ambassadors for their school and science programs. “I am honored to represent Neuse Charter School and showcase my project,” said Simonson. “I was excited to see the other projects and learn from this experience. “