Oak Ridge Elementary students display skills at science fair

Students at Oak Ridge Elementary School participated in a recent science fair.
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Teacher Angel McMillian (left), Leon County School Board chairman Darryl Jones and Jasmine Smith, principal at Oak Ridge
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By Darryl Jones
Special to the Outlook

School activities have looked different in a lot of ways in the past two years. The pandemic has changed the way in which events have been presented so students can be as safe as possible, while also making them fun and academically effective. 

Fast forward to last Wednesday in Oak Ridge Elementary School’s cafeteria. A school-wide science fair was held for the first time in a very long time.   

It is important to know that throughout the world, the focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has increased exponentially as a necessity in schools on all grade levels. At Oak Ridge Elementary School, a Title 1 school in Southside Tallahassee, it is no different. Their Freddie Foggers Lab, (Donated by Tech CEO, Freddie Figgers) is dedicated to STEM education and exploration. 

Students and staff can utilize resources and materials in a setting that mimics a scientific environment. Science teachers in third through fifth grades have frequent science department meetings and make collaboration and integrated education a priority. Special after-school clubs such as 100 Girls of Code teach and enhance computer coding skills and foster the element of teamwork.

With all of those aspects taken into consideration, it is not unusual that this is also the year that the fifth grade science class is one of the highest scoring classes on district tests this year.   

Why a science fair at an elementary school? In August 2021, the Professional Learning Community for Science, amongst other PLC’s at Oak Ridge Elementary School, decided that a science fair would be a great way to bring all of kindergarten-fifth grade students together, and focus on state-wide standards for topics. 

Areas of focus for the exhibits included, the human body, life cycles of plants and insects, conductors and insulators, and the five senses, just to name a few. The students’ science displays and experiments were so sophisticated that it was clear that students and teachers were learning together. And the students were rightfully proud of their presentations.   

Angel McMillian, the fifth grade science teacher, was extremely excited and hopeful for the future that this science fair would be the beginning of something great. 

“Not only can science fairs be a part of school events, but fairs and presentations of all academic areas,” McMillian said. “Students are eager to learn and create!”

 In K-3, teachers worked with students to create class experiments, and fourth and fifth grade students were given individual opportunities to show their acquired knowledge and creativity.   

The Principal, Dr. Jasmine Smith, was beyond impressed and elated over all the projects. 

“Our students have exceeded expectations,” she said. “It shows that Oak Ridge Elementary School is moving and thinking forward in STEM education, which involves a proficiency in math and reading as well. We are just getting started!” 

Her excitement is indicative of the type of innovation found in all of our Title 1 Schools. 

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