CLIFTON FORGE — Every April for the past several years, the Jackson River Governor’s School has hosted an exhibition, fondly known as the JRGS Science Fair, for students in Barbara Kolb’s research course, NAS-198-199, “Intro to Scientific Research,” to show off their projects.
Typically, the JRGS Science Fair is held at the DSLCC Moomaw Center each year.
This year’s pandemic, and the subsequent closing of the DSLCC campus in mid-March, altered, but, ultimately, didn’t stop area high school juniors from completing and turning in their projects anyway.
“We’re doing the projects,” Kolb said she told the students, despite the circumstances.
The accompanying re-search papers were turned in through a variety of ways, said Kolb, but mostly via email attachments or taking photos of pages with cell phones.
Kolb noted that several students had been working on their projects since the beginning of the school year and had put a lot of work into them already.
Others, who had planned to use the science lab, library, and other facilities at the college, had to switch gears and change their topics.
One of them was Alexandre Taylor, an Alleghany High School junior, whose original idea was to measure the effect of electrolytes in different sports beverages. He would have needed the DSLCC lab to conduct his experiments.
Instead, since he knows something about drone flying, Taylor’s research project looked into the practicality of delivering much-needed medications to people living in isolated or rural areas.
Kolb said Taylor’s academic paper was well done, and is not only an example of good research, but also how even high school students are thinking how they can help their community.
Taylor enlisted the services of Adam McBryde, who is a former student of Kolb’s from James River High School, and McBryde’s teenage step-daughter, Leah Manier, to film a video explaining how the drone idea would work, since Alexandre’s drone is broken.
The video showed how a drone could deliver an asthma inhaler to someone’s home.
“This is only one example of how these students are helping others during this time of quarantine,” said Kolb.
For Kolb and her students, the main thrust of the course is not so much the topic, the thesis, or what conclusions they think they’ll come to, but how the scientific research is conducted.
The students weren’t able to display their projects in Moomaw Center and defend them to judges; however, for Kolb, that wasn’t the main point. The main point was the research process, and, for that, Kolb is extraordinarily proud of her students, especially since most communication with them wasn’t face to face in the classroom. That was a huge challenge, said Kolb.
“If they didn’t find what they expected to find, I wanted to know why and how,” said Kolb. “They stayed focused and they worked hard.”
“I am incredibly fortunate to work with these young ladies and gentlemen,” added Eddie Graham, JRGS director.
“They are certainly very capable academically and willing to challenge themselves. Perhaps more importantly, they are very mature for their age and display very positive personal characteristics,” Graham added. “I am extremely proud of how they have reacted to the major disruption that this health crisis has caused.”
Topics ranged from comparing this pandemic with others from history to a GPS wildflower study at Douthat State Park. The students and their respective projects, along with the students’ home schools are as follows:
• Savannah Angle, Alleghany High School: “The Distribution of Native Wildflowers in Douthat State Park in Millboro;”
• Kaitlin Arnold, Bath County High School: “Can Substances Pass Through Plastic Bags;”
• Madison Bennett, Covington High School: “Can Water Temperature Change With the Chemicals Emitted From Plastic Bottles Exposed to Sunlight;”
• Trevor Broce, AHS: “How Fast do Fast Food Burgers Decompose;”
• Giovanni Brown, AHS: “What Material of Tubing Best Transfers Heat to Improve Motor Efficiency;”
• Gracie Conner, AHS: “Can a Person’s Heart Rate Decrease After Petting a Dog;”
• Allison Douglas, CHS: “Has Telemedicine Improved Healthcare Throughout Time;”
• Luke Fisher, CHS: “Differences of Chlorine and pH Levels in the Jackson River Above and Below the Paper Plant;
• Jeffrey Harris, AHS: “Does Magnetism Have an Effect on Plant Growth;”
• Anna Hayes, AHS: “Comparing COVID-19 to the Black Death of the 14th Century;”
• Erik Honaker, AHS: “What is Beauty? Being Average Isn’t So Bad;”
• Mason Honaker, AHS: “What Brand of Antacid is Most Effective;”
• Makailynn Hoke, AHS: “Major Pandemics Over the Past Hundred Years;”
• Kassie Huffman, AHS: “What Effect Do Advancements in Science and Medicine Have on the Number of Contracted Pandemic Cases;”
• Ethyn Kimberlin, AHS: “Which Form of Education Do Students, Educational Professionals and Parents Prefer — In Class or Online;”
• Abby Martin, AHS: “Do the Number of Snow Days Have an Effect on SOL Scores?”
• Alex Newman, AHS: “What Is the Effect of Loud Noises on Pulse Rates?”
• Andrew Peck, AHS: “Are Men or Women More Accurate When It Comes to Real or Artificial Smells;”
• Aaron Rosen, CHS: “The Effect of Water Availability on the Rate of Decomposition of Paper Towels;”
• Zoe Spangler, CHS: “Which Method of Testing Is Preferred Between Teachers and Students;”
• Alexandre Taylor, AHS: “Using a Drone to Deliver Medications to Residents Living in Isolated Areas;”
• Trevor Tomlin, Parry McCluer High School: “Comparison of the Major Pandemics in History;”
• Keegan Williams, AHS: “Best Alternative Archery Backstops;”
For more information on the Jackson River Governor’s School, please contact Eddie Graham at email@example.com.
Alleghany High School student Alexandre Taylor demonstrates his Jackson River Governor’s School Science Fair Project titled “Using a Drone to Deliver Medications to Residents Living in Isolated Areas.” (DSLCC Photo)
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