February 8, 2018

Take Me Out to the Science Fair

Our 7th grade scientists
One of the great joys of continuing to expand our school and build towards a stellar 8th grade program is presenting our middle school students with ever-increasing opportunities to spread their academic wings.

Under the guidance of science teacher extraordinaire Kevin Nugent, six of our 7th grade scientists were selected to present their projects at the CordenPharma Boulder Regional Science Fair which will be held on the CU campus on February 22. The theme at this year’s fair is “Stormy with a Chance of Science!” The regional fair is open to both middle and high school students. Friends is one of only two independent schools in Boulder County to have student representatives at the fair.

Later this year, Kevin is also taking the middle school girls to the GESTEM (Girls Exploring Science Technology Engineering and Math) conference in Denver, where he has presented workshops annually. GESTEM is a conference for 7th grade girls in the Denver-metro area geared towards introducing girls to career opportunities in STEM fields. Participants engage with local STEM professionals through hands-on workshops designed to widen their horizons and introduce STEM careers in a fun and active environment. 

Kevin Nugent with 6th grade scientists
In preparation for the science fair, our 7th graders have been exploring research methodology and experimental design as they created their own experiments. Elementary students and parents will get a sneak peek of their amazing projects in the South Campus Great Room next week on Wednesday February 14 at 9:30 a.m., with the official Friends School Science Fair kicking off later the same day from 6-7:30 p.m. at the North Campus (3800 Kalmia Ave.)

For a list of the fascinating projects that our students have been working on, scroll down….

Kevin is no stranger to middle school science fairs.  He has been preparing students for these events for many years and in 2016 he won the Outstanding Teacher Award at the Front Range Regional Science Fair in Denver.

Just this week, our middle school director Shelby Pawlina received a note from a parent: “I know you know what a truly talented teacher Kevin is - you all are so lucky to have him. The community at Friends middle school is thriving! I continue to recommend it as a life changing positive experience.”

One of the founding principles of our middle school is the importance of integrating different skills and school subjects together into multi-dimensional projects – because this is how life works and what students need to be prepared for high school and beyond.

In creating a science fair project, our students must learn how to apply their existing abilities to new areas, as well as learn many new skills. A science fair project involves reading, logic and thinking, writing, grammar and spelling, math, statistics and data analysis, computer science, and graphic arts and artistic expression, peer editing and review, as well as scientific methodology. When our students participate in formal competition, they also practice public speaking, and learn how to explain and defend their work in front of a panel of judges.

Projects involve scientific questions that each individual student is interested in, and a specific topic they have chosen for themselves. Participants must research their question, learn and apply the scientific method to create a valid experiment, and think about the meaning of their results. Science fairs are also a way for students to demonstrate motivation, self-learning, critical thinking, ethics, and other important 21st century skills and traits.

For Kevin, challenging his students to create well-researched, well-presented projects is a labor of love.

We are exceptionally lucky to have a teacher with Kevin’s passion for science at our middle school.  He is making a difference for our students that will impact them for a lifetime.

(For more background information on Kevin and his extraordinary journey to becoming a science teacher, read this earlier blog entry.)

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