Heidi Nelson, campus instructional coordinator at Martin Walker Elementary School, looks at a chart with fingerprints alongside her daughter, Carly Nelson, as they look for Carly’s prints in another students’ project at the second annual districtwide science fair Monday at the Mayborn Planetarium and Space Theater on the Central Texas College campus.

By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald

Copperas Cove Independent School District students gathered Monday at Central Texas College’s Mayborn Planetarium to exhibit their science fair projects to family and friends.

“It is exciting to see the students delight in their work,” said Earl Parcell, programs and college readiness director for the district, who organized the fair. “It provides them with a platform to do independently focused projects.”

The program was created to teach students about the scientific method and the skills required to explore research, said Parcell.

While only 40 student projects were presented Monday, 1,118 projects were submitted for the fair districtwide. The students who displayed their research were selected as the top four from each district campus.

“You guys have become scientists, and I am proud of every one of you,” said Rose Cameron, district superintendent, who helped to hand out awards to students at the event.

Every student received a medal for their work, but the district selected a first, second and third place from both the elementary and secondary classifications.

“I have been very impressed with what I have seen from our students,” said Col. Patrick Sargent, commander of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, who was a guest speaker at the ceremony and shook students’ hands as each was announced.

To select the top four projects, each campus reviewed the displays based on the student’s attention to detail, scientific content and overall excellence. A panel of five community judges selected the six finalists based on the same criteria. They spent 26 hours judging.

It didn’t matter about the results of the fair, said Sargent. What was important was the students’ desire and willingness to be a part of the scientific method, because they may one day become inventors.

“There is a lot of things that have yet to be found,” he said. “Don’t forget about the possibilities that go into the future. … This curiosity I have seen here tonight, we need to nurture it.”

Science fair winners

Elementary school winners

Kaitlyn Houston, of Clements/Parsons Elementary School, first place

Colby Jost, of House Creek Elementary School, second place

Abbie Wardlow, of Clements/Parsons Elementary School, third place

Secondary school winners

Aleia Wardlow, of S.C. Lee Junior High, first place

Joshua Cademartori, of S.C. Lee Junior High, second place

Caroline Darling and Mikayla Miller, of Copperas Cove High School, third place