by Terry Rogers
Milford School District will hold their annual Science Night on Friday, January 17 from 4 to 6 PM in the Milford Central Academy gymnasium. The public is welcome to attend the event and see the various projects created by district students. An award ceremony will be held at 6:30 PM. Last year, there were more than 350 people in attendance at the event.
“We have another fun-filled night of science planned for this year,” Jacquelyn Mullikin-Powers, Science Fair Coordinator, said. “This year, we have many vendors coming out to showcase the science they are doing in our community. The purpose of our science night is to get the entire community interested and engaged in science for the night. We want students of all ages (elementary, middle, high school) to learn about all the careers and science opportunities in our area. The most beneficial part of our fair is to get upper elementary and middle school students interested in pursuing a career in science. It was so nice last year to see those students put down their phones and get excited for doing hands-on experiments. Many left saying “I want to be a scientists!” I heard a lot of “This is so cool!” “This is awesome.” Everyone left interested and excited about science.”
The Science Fair began with just a few vendors and, just five years ago, there were only about 15 to 20 students who participated and attended the event. Last year, the gymnasium was filled with booths of demonstrations and experiments.
“We also judge and award our students that evening,” Mullikin-Powers said. “The fair is open to students in grades 6 through 12 but is mandatory for 8th grade honors students. The top ten winners of the fair will advance to the Sussex County Science Fair competition in March. Students could then advance to regional and national competitions with changes to earn scholarships and internships at local universities. This year’s theme was “Invention,” so it is much more than building volcanoes. Students are involved in complex research projects and experimentation.”
At last year’s Sussex County Science Fair, Mackenzie Bogan and Addison Dapias won $75 from the American Association of University Women for their “Moon Buffoons” project. They were the youngest competitors at the Sussex County fair last year. Nathan Schwan, Jackson Caldwell and Brianna Thompson have all been named regional finalists. Jackson Caldwell received a US Naval Science Award from the Office of Naval Research for his electromagnetic propulsion design while Jacob Smith earned an internship for the summer at Delaware State University at the Kent County Science Fair for his agricultural project. This project also helped further his interested in an agricultural pathway.
“The Delaware Valley Science Fairs give nearly $2 million in scholarships and prize money to student winners,” Mullikin-Powers said. “Science fairs can change a student’s life forever as they compete and discover new findings that can change our world. As a science teacher, it is what inspires me each day, to see a student’s innovation and creativity that keeps them wanting to learn and discover science in their own way.”
Vendors at this year’s fair include ILC Dover, who will have a spacesuit available for attendees to try on as well as Envirotech Environmental Consulting who will demonstrate their tank of macroinvertebrates. UD Marine Studies will have graduate students on hand to demo their own research products while the Delaware Center for Inland Bays will explain oyster bed projects and geologists will demonstrate earthquake activity, rocks and fossils. Abbott’s Mill and the Delaware Forest Service will also be available.
“We will be setting up an IMAX film in school planetarium while middle school teachers will be demonstrating and creating activity booths to teach students about things like take-home density columns, slime, magnets, microscopes and creating genetic color sheets,” Mullikin-Powers said. “Our MCA FFA will be teaching us about their animals with a “pet an animal” booth. The Great STEMporium will be there giving away gift card door prizes to their Lewes location and concessions are available for purchase. There is no admission fee.”
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