WCS Communications Director
Students from two schools started the new year off in competition at the first-ever Weakley County Schools Agriscience Fair.
About 30 FFA students in Agrisciences classes from Dresden High and Westview High Schools conducted scientific research projects pertaining to the agriculture and food science industries. They presented their findings in a report and display for the judges’ critique at the Personal Development Center in Dresden on Thursday, January 6.
First and second-place winners in each category received $100 and $50 cash prizes, respectively. Prize awards were donated by the Dresden FFA Alumni and Westview FFA Alumni Organizations.
The judges were Dr. Will Bird and Dr. Barbara Darroch, Associate Professors with UT Martin’s Department of Agriculture, Geoscience, and Natural Resources.
The projects were categorized according to subject into one of six Agriscience areas.
Categories and Winners Include:
Environmental Services and Natural Resource Systems
1st Place – Hayle Alford, DHS
2nd Place – Jerzey Aven and Emma McGregor, WHS
1st Place – Edward Schertz and Aiyana Jones, WHS
2nd – Lyric Mullins and Zoe Wicker, WHS
Food Products and Processing
1st Place – Payton Leverette and Lexie Edminson, WHS
2nd Place – Case Perry, DHS
1st Place – Jack Mantooth, WHS
2nd Place – Dylan Parker, DHS
1st Place – Myra Morgan, DHS
No other entries
Power Structure and Technical Systems
1st Place – Sarah Elizabeth Byars and Easton Wyatt, WHS
2nd Place – Dalton Davis and Violet Nichols, WHS
Each school has the opportunity to send some of the winning projects to compete at the state level.
Westview High Agriscience Teacher David Hochreiter said that this type of project is a great way to introduce students to true research methods.
“Often, when we ask a student to do some research, they go straight to Google. In working on this project, they had to identify a problem and use the scientific method to find a potential solution. I wanted my students to learn that conducting an experiment and gaining knowledge from the data collection equals the research,” he said.
It’s common for a student’s predicted outcome to turn out differently than anticipated, according to Jessica Browning, Dresden High Agriscience Teacher.
“It’s a good thing for our students to see that the outcome often differs from the one they expect. The scientific method is one of the best processes to learn. In addition, students get to choose a category and project that interests them, and that helps us gauge what programs would be a good fit for them after they leave basic Ag Science classes,” she said.
From the ideas that sparked the inspiration to things they would change upon retrospection, the project garnered an overall positive response from students.
WHS Freshman Brayden Wenz said that his pumpkin rotting experiment was inspired by the idea of finding “another way for farmers and producers to move their products around the country for longer distances.”
Dylan Parker, Freshman at DHS, said that he wished that he had instituted the use of rubber bands for his color-changing flowers project.
“I like working with a partner, so that was a great thing about this project. It went pretty smoothly,” said Sarah Elizabeth Byars, Freshman at WHS.
DHS Freshman Myra Morgan was proud to have “completed her project without a partner.”
Lindsey Parham, Director of Career and Technical Education, thought the first year of the event was a success.
“I was impressed with the number of entries we had for our first county-wide Agriscience Fair. I hope that next year’s fair will include entries from all of our high schools,” said Parham. “Hats off to the Advisors and competitors for an outstanding job this year and good luck at the state competition.”
Ideas for next year’s fair are already in the works.
“We’re proud of how the students performed overall and there’s always room for growth. We already have ideas for refining and expanding next year’s Agriscience Fair,” said Browning.
The complete list of students who participated includes:
Dresden High: Hayle Alford, Levi Harper, Brody Taylor, Case Perry, Dylan Parker, Grey Forrester, Alexis Harrison, Aubrey Hodge, Brad Mathis, Charla Walker, Myra Morgan
Westview High: Lyric Mullins, Zoe Wicker, Edward Schertz, Aiyana Jones, Jerzey Aven, Emma McGregor, Payton Leverette, Lexie Edminson, Josey Clark, Jashun Ward, Cortavis Hayes, Brayden Wenz, Jack Mantooth, Sarah Elizabeth Byars, Easton Wyatt, Dalton Davis, Violet Nichols
The projects were judged according to a variety of performance indicators that corresponded to various academic standards. Outstanding projects in each category had to show the students’ competencies in many areas including compiling and analyzing data, designing and conducting a scientific investigation, interpreting information, and presenting evaluated data with a written report.
Pictures of the projects and students can be found on the Weakley County Schools Facebook page: facebook.com/WeakleySchools.
For more about Weakley County Schools, visit weakleycountyschools.com.