Overall winners at the Pocahontas County Science Fair were, from left: first place tie, Madeline Ray and Irish Simmons; second place, Sarah Warder; and third place, Daphne Hilleary. S. Stewart photo
Overall winners at the Pocahontas County Science Fair were, from left: first place tie, Madeline Ray and Irish Simmons; second place, Sarah Warder; and third place, Daphne Hilleary. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Pocahontas County students gathered last week at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank for the annual county science fair. Students in grades three through nine competed in the fair, presenting projects in the life sciences, engineering and physical sciences.

Students also participated in several fun projects while they were at the science center.

“We’re making toothbrush robots and then they’re doing an exhibit hall scavenger hunt,” Sue Ann Heatherly said.

While the students had fun with activities, the judges were tasked with grading each project. Volunteers from the community and employees at the NRAO worked together to find winners in each category.

First time judges David Frayer and Hannah Devine said they enjoyed their judging duties.

“I have never judged a science fair before so this is a new experience for me,” Devine said. “I think we’re getting the hang of it. There’s a lot of diversity in the projects. Some of them did psychology projects. One of them did a natural resources project and some of them are doing more of micro biology things. There was a good mix.”

Speaking of the categories, Frayer said there were several engineering projects.

“I was surprised by the number of engineering projects,” he said. “I know when I was a kid, we didn’t have as many engineering projects. I’m not sure if it’s the make up of the local community, we do have a lot of engineers.”

In its third year, the science fair has grown to be popular with many students, including a trio from Green Bank Elementary-Middle School who always work together. Max O’Ganian, Mason Solliday and Iam Johnston have participated in every fair and continue to be enthusiastic about science.

“This year, we titled it “Gone with the Wind,” and it’s like, which sail pushes our homemade cart the farthest, which could carry the most weight and which makes it the fastest,” Solliday said of the project.

“We used a high powered fan from the Star Lab and if it went any higher than the low setting, it would just tip over,” O’Ganian added.

The friends said they enjoy participating in the science fair and especially like being at the NRAO.

“It’s fun and it’s a good time to be here at the NRAO,” Solliday said.

“Science is one of my favorite subjects,” Johnston said.

Prior to finding out the winners of the fair, students were treated to a chemistry demonstration by Glenville State College chemistry professor Dr. Kevin Evans and his grad students.

Evans and his students used volunteers from the crowd to help with several experiments, including crushing soda cans with air and water, creating synthetic rope with a mixture of chemicals and adding a silver sheen to glass bottles with chemicals.

The demonstrations also included a lesson in what happens when a lit candle is used to pop a balloon filled with hydrogen – it creates a fire ball. Hydrogen was also used to send Pringle cans flying in the air.

Winners are:

Overall: First place tie, Madeline Ray and Irish Simmons; second place, Sarah Warder; and third place, Daphne Hilleary.

Engineering

Third Grade: First place, Declan Gravely.

Fourth Grade: First place, Max O’Ganian, Mason Solliday and Iam Johnston; second place, Robert Pritt; and third place, Izabella Spradlin.

Fifth Grade: First place, Scout Tankersley; second place, Max Ervine; and third place, C.J. Long, James Sharp and William Feury.

Sixth Grade: First place, John Fitzgerald.

Seventh Grade: First place, Treavor Wilson and Devyn Young; second place, Christopher Murray and Matthew Moore; and third place, Brody Buzzard and Thomas Smith.

Eighth Grade: First place, Bridget Carroll.

Ninth Grade: First place, Jake Faris.

Judges’ Choice: Jake Faris.

Life Science

Third Grade: First place, Madeline Ray; second place, Daitlin Halterman; and third place, Guy Taber.

Fourth Grade: First place, Kelsi Taylor; and second place, Haley Spencer.

Fifth Grade: First place, Sarah Warder; second place, Daphne Hilleary; and third place, Rayna Smith and Macaden Taylor.

Seventh Grade: First place, Emmett Doolittle; and second place, Carly Keatley.

Eighth Grade: First place, Irish Simmons; second place, Hunter Shafer; and third place, Treavor Hammons.

Judges’ Choice: Cassie Moats and Hazel Riley.

Physical Science

Third Grade: First place, Hannah Burk; and second place, Jadyn Lane.

Fourth Grade: First place, Madison Arbogast; second place, Heidi Kelly; and third place, Christopher Harmon.

Fifth Grade: First place, Avery Clay and Aiden Lutz; second place, Josey Armstrong and David Gibb; third place Alison Alderman and Andrea Alderman.

Sixth Grade: First place, Savannah McMillian; second place, Connor Spencer; and third place, Hayley Moore.

Seventh Grade: First place, Julie Agee and Emily Casto; second place, Wyatt Van Buren and Anthony Totten; and third place, Reese Kelley.

Eighth Grade: First place, Aliza Carr; second place, Kyle Cohenour; and third place, Harlie Nelson.

Judges’ Choice: T.D. Sparks.