Serving the community since 1970

Event cultivates a love of science

Palm Avenue Middle School hosted the 40th annual Wasco Union Elementary School District Science Fair for kindergarten to 8th grade students. There were 235 projects presented based on scientific questions students created themselves.

In the morning, the projects were displayed and presented to a judging panel of volunteers made up of district employees, community members and teachers, including retired staff.

Students were divided into various judging groups based on age. They were each allowed to choose a project of their interest.

Some examples of the projects included exploring what causes ice to melt, how wind turbine design affects electricity production and studies on erosion.

Kory Mildenberger is a science teacher and district science fair coordinator. He has taught science for 23 years and said he couldn't imagine having another career.

"Even before I knew what school was, I wanted to be a teacher. I always gravitated to the science side of school, but it was in high school that I took chemistry. That was when the fire was lit in me. It was like magic, but it was real."

Mildenberger would like students to feel the same passion for learning and said with the science fair, they are taking away skills that can be implemented in high school and college.

He loves teaching science, teaching students to know why something is the way it is, and being able to back up ideas with actual evidence.

Of the science fair, Mildenberger explained that the judging was mostly based on how the students tested an idea with real data.

He said the projects were diverse, and it was interesting to hear the insight from students.

Students worked with their science teachers, science fair coaches and parents that helped out.

Mildenberger said a highlight was seeing all the hard work students put forward and their pride when they shared their projects with family and friends.

The science fair allowed students to explore ideas they were curious about.

It was also a way to introduce students to jobs related to science. Projects were directly tied to fields like engineering, chemistry, biology, medicine and psychology, to name a few.

"It exposes students to the scientific process and helps them realize that a career in science doesn't all happen in the laboratory," Mildenberger said. "It's more about getting students to acquire the skills necessary for careers in science."

Students worked on their projects since October, where they developed their experiments, collected their data, created their presentation board and practiced their presentations.

After the judging, the science fair was open to the public to view the different exhibitions.

For the student's outstanding efforts, the judges selected winners from each age group, and they all received medals at the awards ceremony. The sweepstakes winners from the 4th to 8th grade categories received trophies and qualified to move on to the county science fair held in March.

Mildenberger said the best part was seeing a student's excitement after displaying and talking about the project they had spent so much time on.

"It is always very rewarding to see our district students compete at the highest science level. We take pride in our district science fair and ensure our students are learning the mastery skills to complete a science fair project," WUESD Assistant Superintendent Oscar Luna said.

"This year's science fair was a true success. Our teachers and staff are to be commended for their hard work and dedication to make this possible for their students."


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