The 2017 Big Walnut Science Fair, held last Thursday evening (Feb. 9) at Big Walnut High School, is one of the few school district fairs in the state that has been held continuously for the past 50-plus years.
This year’s science fair, an event that involves students from fifth grade through high school, showcased 110 projects. With individual and group projects combined, 129 students participated in this year’s Big Walnut Science Fair.
Big Walnut High School science teacher Matt Wallschlaeger said volunteer judges came from all over central Ohio, representing many Ohio institutions, including The Ohio State University, Ohio Wesleyan University, and Battelle Institute to name just a few.
“The Big Walnut Science Fair was once again a success, with many great projects,” Wallschlaeger said. “We even had a Superior rated project entered by a student from the Olentangy school district because Big Walnut is one of the last schools to have an organized district science fair, and we’ve had ours for over 50 years.”
Wallschlaeger said after judging was completed and the proverbial dust settled, there were 34 projects rated Superior submitted by students in grades 5 through 12. Students who received a Superior rating now have the opportunity to advance to the March 18 Central District Science Fair at Columbus State.
Students who receive a Superior at Central District will advance to the May 13 State Science Day at The Ohio State University where they will compete for scholarships, money, and awards recognizing their research efforts, Wallschlaeger said.
“This year’s projects were amazing, and the evening was a huge success,” Wallschlaeger said. “With as many Superiors that Big walnut students received at our local science fair this year, it’s certainly possible that several students will make it to state.
“Three projects, or possibly four projects, from the high school will compete in Bowling Green at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in March, where they will defend their projects in front of a panel of expert researchers from state agencies and private companies,” Wallschlaeger continued.
“This is a statewide research competition, including some of the best science fair projects in the state, where students could win thousands of dollars for their work.”
Wallschlaeger, who teaches Environmental Science at Big Walnut High School, said he has really been impressed with performances by Abigail Myers and Madison Alshire – not just this year, but for multi-year science fair participation.
“Abbie Myers broke records as one of the longest-standing science fair students in public schools, earning Superior ratings each year at each competition,” Wallschlaeger said. “She got, once again, a perfect 80 in our local science fair to finish her senior year, and she has been nationally recognized for her research for several years.
“Another incredible girl I have had the pleasure to work with is Madison Alshire, a senior with tremendous future potential,” Wallschlaeger added. “Although Madison has not shattered long-standing records in science fair, she has demonstrated the work ethic and intelligence of a professional adult in science.”
Wallschlaeger said both Myers and Alshire would be nominated for Senior Science Students of the Year awards during this spring’s Columbus Technical Council Recognition Dinner.
“I’ve never before had the pleasure of nominating two top students for that award during the same year,” Wallschlaeger said.
Wallschlaeger said any Big Walnut area folks interested in helping out or judging at Central District Science Fair should contact him at the high school; that volunteering at Central District is a factor in determining how many Big Walnut students can participate in Central District Science Fair.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.