Recently, Dr. Danielle Garrett, assistant professor of chemistry education, and two Belmont undergraduate students were invited to judge the Donelson Christian Academy (DCA) 6th – 8th grade science fair. Isria Jarrett, third-year biology major and chemistry minor and Jessica Bernaba, first-year biology major and chemistry-Spanish double minor, were selected to help judge the event. More than 80 projects were on display covering a wide range of topics in both the physical and biological sciences.
“It was exciting and encouraging to see some of the unique ideas that students developed for the science fair,” Garrett said. “Additionally, I think this was a wonderful opportunity for our students at Belmont, allowing them to experience some of the challenging aspects encountered when trying to analytically assess student work and knowledge in a fair and impartial way.”
After the judging was complete, the group spoke with DCA middle and high school science teachers about suggestions for continuing to strengthen the fair and student understanding of the scientific method for the following year.
“The DCA Science Fair was a great experience!” Jarrett said. “It took me back to the days when I began to show my interests in the sciences. It also made me wish that my middle school took the time to have annual science fairs. It was truly inspiring to see children show their interests in science through their science presentations. Being a judge made me feel like I was giving back to the STEM community. It is important to encourage children to pursue STEM subjects, and the science fair was a wonderful way for students, especially those at young ages, to put their science interests and ideas in action.”
Bernaba shared the same view and said, “The few hours I spent at Donelson Christian Academy illuminated a different perspective to my academic experience as a student. I learned that knowledge is only solidified and applicable if one can reproduce it, that is, to teach it. Looking over someone’s work, even if it was the work of a middle schooler, allowed me to practice the skills that I have acquired as a science major. I was glad to see the potential of the next generation and how they question and observe the world, because that’s what science is all about!”