By Megan Alley
Hundreds of students and parents from the Felicity-Franklin Local Elementary School community came together on April 13 to recognize students who have earned top spots in a longstanding national science competition.
Third-graders Abigail Masterson, Imala Walker and Hailey Wendling have been named regional winners of the 25th annual Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision program, the world’s largest K-12 science competition, according to a press release.
The competition, which started in 1992, has been “inspiring students and teachers to develop a lifelong passion for science, technology and innovation,” according to a press release. Since its start, more than 378,000 students from across the United States and Canada have participated in the program.
The local students were one of 24 regional winning teams, and now the girls will have to wait until May 7 to find out if they’ve been selected to compete at nationals, which will be held later this summer in Washington D.C.
Their project, called Magic Eardrops, was developed as an eardrop for people with autism; research has found that people with autism sometimes have issues with loud noises.
The students came up with the idea for the drops to help people with autism, without using noise-cancelling earphones.
The drops are put into the ear to relax the tympanic membrane, vibrate the eardrum less and block some of the sounds.
“We thought that the drops would be the project idea that was needed the most in the world,” Walker responded when asked how the group landed on innovation.
She went on to describe what earning a top spot in the competition means to her.
“It makes me happy and excited,” she said.
Masterson also shared what the recognition means to her.
“It means a lot; it feels really good when I think about it,” she said, adding that she’d like to have a career in the medical field.
Wendling said she’d like to have a career as an inventor.
With 48 students in grades 3-8 entered, this year marks the 25th year that the school district has participated in the competition.
This year’s participants started working on their projects in December 2016, and they were due in February.
Beth Francis, gifted coordinator/teacher for the district, serves as the students’ coach for the competition.
“It’s very exciting,” Francis said. “I really feel like we have a chance of winning nationals this year, because we have more of a ‘saving the world’ type of idea.”
This year, Francis was named ambassador for ExploraVision Ohio.
“I do love my job and I love my kids,” Francis said. “I told them today that I’m the luckiest teacher in the world.”
She added, “[The students] never ask me why we do this; they know why we do this – to learn. So, they’re just great kids.”