LAYTON — It was a typical science fair with projects about Frisbee dynamics, what cleans coins the most effectively, the effects of caffeine on plant growth, or if a cat lover predicts whether or not a person is an introvert. Intermingled amidst the tri-fold project posters at the Legacy Christian Academy science fair on Monday were a host of military members in uniforms and Hill Air Force Base civilians, judging the projects.
“The cool thing about these science fairs is that the judges interact with the students one-on-one for ten minutes each, so these kids get first-hand contact with people who are in the military and in science fields, so they get to share with the kids how science relates to their job now, and students look up to members in uniform and that’s a pretty cool part,” said JD McBride, STEM Outreach Coordinator at Hill Air Force Base.
Talking to someone in uniform may be daunting for some, according to one of the volunteer judges, Staff Sgt. Travis Laughlin. “Talking to somebody twice your age can be frightening, but in our society, it’s one of the biggest killers of creativity. Once you get over being able to speak, it gives you confidence, something that is lacking in our society, and this can boost them by us telling them they have a good idea and they realize what they do matters,” Laughlin said.
Layton Christian Academy science teacher Anne Lewis agreed with Laughlin as she gave instructions to other volunteers from Hill Air Force Base. “This is where education starts, learning how to write your ideas down and talk to other people about those ideas, and having volunteers come from Hill Air Force Base to talk to our students makes our kids feel important and helps validate their ideas,” Lewis said.
Too often kids don’t learn important communication skills with texting Lewis stated, or even worse, don’t learn proper grammar.
“In our society, you have to know these skills, and the more our students do these things (like science fairs), they get experience in public speaking,” Lewis said.
Even Tech. Sgt. Ken Rice, a volunteer judge at the Legacy Christian Academy’s science fair stated how important it is for students to learn communication.
Rice participated in numerous science fairs growing up, but the part he remembers the most? Interacting with the judges.
“I can see these kids getting that exact same experience. In science, you have sell yourself, pitch your ideas to somebody in order for an industry or government to back your ideas,” Rice said.
Ninth-grader Chase Uragami showed his science project where he tested how much water evaporates from a cup of water when covered with various brands of plastic wrap. After talking about his project with Rice, Uragami said it wasn’t too hard.
“They are good role models and they do a good job judging,” Uragami said.
However, it has been hard recently for Hill Air Force Base to find volunteers to help out at science fairs.
They have nine science fairs at local schools over the next couple of months.
“You have 100 kids and 7 judges who spend time talking with many of the students, but it is a great public relations tool for the base,” said McBride. “It gets us into classrooms and receptive to things we want to do, in addition to being an excellent recruiting tool for kids to see how what they are doing now relates to the jobs at a military base.”
For those interested in volunteering, contact Jon.firstname.lastname@example.org.