ECMS students shine at statewide science fair

ECMS science fair participants and sponsors pose with their trophies.

The stellar performance of Escambia County Middle School students in a statewide mathematics competition is apparently rubbing off on students who are proficient in other areas.

Fifty of the school’s sixth-grade and eighth-grade students traveled to Birmingham for the February 10 Black History Month Science Fair and brought home trophies representing a first-place, a second-place and two third-place finishes in the statewide event.

Students had to select an African-American scientist, inventor or engineer who has made a significant contribution to the field of science, technology, engineering or math. They had to research and document their subject’s life and historical significance, along with their scientific accomplishments, then design and implement an experiment that compliments the subject’s experiments, research or invention of note.

The top individual performer among the local students was sixth-grader Elizabeth Mitchelle, who took top honors in the middle school competition with her solar panel powered planter, which reflected the accomplishments of Mary Jackson, an engineer with NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Shontia Martin’s third-place project, “300 Ways to Use Peanuts,” was based upon the advances made by George Washington Carver in helping make peanuts one of the world’s biggest agricultural commodities.

In the team competition, ECMS’s second-place showing came from sixth-graders Jyrin Brown and Tenya Brown, whose “Making Light With Potatoes” project was based on the work of Lewis Howard Latimer, and the third-place trophy went to an eighth-grade duo — Willie Walker and Layla Moberg, who created a guitar from a cigar box as part of “Stringing the Hearts of Many,” a tribute to the work of Robert Fleming, who invented the euphonic, a device that allowed a louder sound from the guitar with less force on the strings.

Anna Wheeler, who was in charge of the sixth-grade group, said all the youngsters put in a lot of work in preparing for the event.

“I am extremely proud of my students,” Wheeler said of the school’s first entry in the event, which was held at Birmingham Children’s Theater and jointly sponsored by Alabama Public Television and Southern Research. “They came up with some of the best ideas for their projects. Not only did they learn through researching and presenting their projects, but they were able to learn from the other participants. Our children left excited and proud of their accomplishments and are eager to participate in the next Black History Science Fair.”

Ronda Hoffman, who was lead chaperone for the eight-graders, agreed that the experience, which marked the school’s first entry in the fair, was well worth the hard work.

“All of the students worked very hard on their projects,” Hoffman said. “Each of our students created their projects themselves. I am very proud of all of them, whether they came home with a trophy or not. I feel this was a very good experience for them and hope they will all enter the science fair again next year.”