Tuugaalik High School selected the students to represent it at the Kivalliq Regional Science Fair at Qitiqliq Middle School in Arviat from March 15 to 17 at the conclusion of its local science fair in Naujaat on Nov. 29.

Grade 9 students, from left, Latisha Siusangnark and Janet Aqatsiaq speak to Chrissie Kringayark about their project on Elephant Toothpaste during the Tuugaalik High School Science Fair in Naujaat on Nov. 29, 2018.
Photo courtesy Gregg Durrant

The 2018 Tuugaalik High School Science Fair, which had 37 projects entered, was the first for senior high science teacher Gregg Durrant.

Durrant worked with students and their teachers in Grades 7 and 8 for weeks leading up to the Naujaat fair, as well as his own classes in Grades 9 to 12 to help create their projects.

The fair was open to the public in the afternoon following the judging, and a large number of community members, parents, guardians, friends and family members came to the gym to view the student projects.

Durrant said this was also the first fair for the other science teachers at the school, so, with his teaching background, he basically decided to take on most of the responsibilities himself this time.

He said it all worked out well at the end of the day, but he did find it fairly challenging with everyone asking him for guidance and support.

“At one point I mentioned to one of the other teachers that I needed about 10 more Greggs,” Durrant said with a sincere laugh.

“Going forward, my thinking is that we’ll start planning earlier, let’s say around the middle of January, and there will be less pressure that way.

“This year’s projects leaned more towards experimentation, especially from students in Grade 7 and Grade 8.

“And, of our three winning projects, two of them were based on experimentation.”

Grade 12 student Tumasie Papatsie took top spot overall with his work on the bactericidal effect of crowberry, while Grade 10 student Emily Qaunaq took second place for her efforts on comparing the vitamin C concentration of maktaaq versus apples, oranges and strawberries, and the team of Grade 11 student Melanie (Ayaya) Qaqqasiq and Grade 12 student Neevie Kidlapik captured third place for their investigation on whether chewing gum improves concentration.

Durrant classified the overall level of the 37 projects entered into the Tuugaalik science fair as average, taking into consideration that the students did not have much time to prepare.

He said he takes responsibility his first time organizing the fair for underestimating the amount of instructional time needed by the students, as well as the amount of time required to properly do the projects.

“So, all things considered, I found the projects to be pretty average with the noted exceptions of the first-place and second-place projects, which were both a bit above average.

“I will be working with the students advancing to the regional fair to tighten-up or improve their projects before they head to Arviat.”

Durrant said on a scale of one to 10, he world rate his first experience working on the science fair as a five or six, taking into account he considers himself to be quite modest.

He said he conducted an after-event survey with students, teachers and a number of people who came to view the projects.

“Overall, the staff felt the fair was put together fairly well, while the majority of those who came to view the projects were pleased with what they saw.

“But now that I know what I want versus what I can do, I know it can be better next time.

“As for student effort, I would say about 70 per cent of them really wanted to do a good job with their science projects, 25 per cent were in a bit of a gray area, and five per cent just wanted to do it and get it over with.

“So wanting to do well at the regional fair still has good momentum among the largest percentage of the students, especially those with the winning projects who wanted to immediately start working with me to improve them before the March date in Arviat, so there’s definitely a discernible energy there.”

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