PIQUA — Students grades 5-12 came together from throughout the Miami Valley at Edison State Community College on Saturday to compete in the Upper Miami Valley District 1 Science Day.
This marked the third consecutive year that Edison hosted the event for its district, representing students from Miami, Shelby, Darke, and Champaign County, which make up one of 17 competing Ohio districts.
“Previously, these counties were part of District 10, which includes Montgomery, Greene, and Clarke County,” said council co-chairman Martin E. English, DVM. “The District 10 venue is in Xenia, and very few up here were participating. There were entrants from only two schools in these counties, and that’s it. We now have 20 schools represented.”
“From year one to year two, we doubled the participants,” said Paul Heintz, Dean of Arts & Sciences at Edison. “This year, we’ve maintained the volume from last year. Xenia was a long way to travel for a lot of students, so this has been a very useful venue. We’ve worked out the numbers and think we’ll be able to continue holding it here for the next decade or so.”
The Edison venue represents the next step up in the competition for students whose Science Day presentations faired well at the local level.
Eligible categories for Science Day entrants include animal science, behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, embedded systesm and software systems, energy, material sciences, mathematics, mechanical engineering, medicine and health sciences, microbiology, physics and astronomy, plant science, and robotics and intelligent machines.
“Students first competed either at their school or one of our county events,” English explained. “They all had to enter within one of the categories. To make district, they had to earn a ‘Superior’ score, which is at least 36 out of 40 points for an individual project or 45 out of 50 for a team project.”
Competition scoring at the district level works the same as local, and those who place in the ‘Superior’ bracket at the Edison venue will qualify to continue to state level.
English confirmed that while there was open opportunity for entrants to choose subject matter, certain rules and boundaries still applied to each project.
“Criteria does need to be followed,” English said. “They all have to have done background research. They have to have conducted a research plan. They are forms that have to be filled out for safety regulations. The board does need to have certain information on it, and as of this year, they are allowed to bring along a prototype or certain equipment pertaining to the project. In previous years, you couldn’t do that.”
English also confirmed that between each tier of the Science Day competition, adjustments could be made to projects within contest rules.
“The judges are giving them scores, but they’re also giving them comments,” said English. “If a judge says, ‘You need to rework your display, as it’s not representing your research well,’ the kids are allowed to do that. They can’t go do more data collection or experimenting, but they can write a better paper or make a whole new board.”
Following judging and public viewing, an awards ceremony designated trophies and awards to winning entrants, sponsored by various bsuinesses and organizations throughout the Upper Miami Valley area. Entrants who received a ‘Superior’ rating will go on to the state competition, held Saturday, May 12 at the Ohio State University in Columbus.
Based upon its positive reception, officials at District Science Day feel the event is beneficial not only to entrants as a learning experience, but also as a building block for their future.
“I think a lot of participants know Edison exists, but this really allows them to get together and build valuable relationships, specifically with some of the judges,” Heintz said. “Most of our judges are local. They represent local businesses, or are even faculty members within this administration. Science Day allows students to make the connections they wouldn’t normally have out of their local school.”
Upper Miami Valley District 1 Science Day is affiliated with the Ohio Academy of Science State Science Day.
For more information, visit www.edisonohio.edu, or www.ohiosci.org.