Casey Middle Teacher Receives Science Advocate Scholarship
A few years ago, Casey Middle School students didn’t compete at the big regional science fair in Boulder Valley.
Some of the area’s middle schools consistently turn out students every year, but Casey, one of Boulder’s most diverse middle schools, was not one of them. Casey’s science teacher, Erin Mayer, wanted to change that and applied for a scholarship to support her students.
“This is something that historically Casey has never done,” she said. “There are a lot of underrepresented kids here in science. It’s a great opportunity for all kids to really see what science can do,” she said.
A Washington nonprofit, the Society for Science, has awarded scholarships to 84 educators across the country to guide students in scientific research and have that research enter competitions. Mayer received a $3,000 scholarship this year. This is her third year since she received the scholarship.
“I’m trying to build a program where all the supplies they need are here, so the playing field is level,” she said. “A big part of this is access to equipment. “
For the first year, during the pandemic, support included a science experiment toolkit she sent home with her students. Some of her students have developed projects at home and attended science her fairs remotely.
Last year, 10 of her 6th graders attended a local science fair and mostly created projects using the second science toolkit at school. According to Mayer, the face-to-face fair was not only an opportunity to present work, but also an opportunity to see high-level projects created by high school students.
“It was great to see where they could go in science,” she said.
Mayer said all of last year’s 6th grade attendees will be attending the science fair again this spring as 7th graders. She also wants to encourage more students to get involved by creating a project for the school’s science symposium for all grade 7 students. For students who are not in class, she hosts an after school club.
“It’s great to see them really excited about the project they chose,” she said. They were very excited.”
Last year as a sixth grader, German Chacon designed a project on turtle behavior, Siena Jaan Watt used a coding tool called Makey Makey to build a health check box, and Tyler Edmur used the Ardiuno platform to build a tank. created a light.
The German, who wanted to learn more about turtles, said collecting all the necessary data was his biggest challenge. He watches videos to gather data on turtle behavior and determines that turtles prefer to be left alone.
“They don’t like having people next to them or picking them up,” he said. “If you really want a pet you can touch, you should probably get a dog.”
Sienna said his project required many revisions, but the biggest challenge was “toning down” the vision to create a more realistic project. Another thing she learned after she accidentally deleted a long string of code was saving code while it was running.
“I learned a lot because it was more hands-on,” she said. “I had to choose from things that interested me, so I never got bored.”
Tyler said, “It’s not easy to pick a topic because there are so many things you can do and possibilities.”
He likes science fairs.
“Our projects are graded by real people outside of school,” he said. “It’s really important.”
His biggest challenge was finding enough time for the project.
“Anyone can make a great science fair project if they put in the time,” he said. “It’s definitely a commitment.”