Research students await OK for projects

The past weeks have been chaotic and hectic for science research classes as students put in effort to get their projects approved so they can begin the experiments they will present at science fair.

“Fair is about three weeks early this year, so right now [the students] are really rushing to get their projects approved, supplies ordered, and experimentation started,” science research teacher Mary Anderson said.

Before the students can begin to work on their experiments, they must first submit their plans to the science fair director for approval. However, approval has proved to be a difficult task this year with stricter guidelines on chemical and safety procedures for the experiments.

“Approval is a very long process,” Anderson said. “The students first have to submit their research plan to the director, then he [the director] returns the plan with a list of corrections that the plan needs, and then the student can resubmit and gain approval or just get more corrections.”

However, some students, such as junior Carissa Sage, haven’t even begun the approval process after weeks of effort.

“For my project this year, I plan to work with a lot of chemicals that are considered to be potentially hazardous,” Sage said. “Before I can even submit a research plan, all of my chemicals need to be determined safe for me to work with.”

The approval of chemicals has proved to be a task no simpler than the approval of experiments for Sage.

“For the past weeks I have been working to get these chemicals approved, but they still haven’t,” she said. “I’m scared that by the time I get all this stuff approved, there will be no time for me to actually do my project.”

Sage is not the only student being affected by the stricter approval processes.

“A few of my students started submitting early October, and they are just now getting approved,” Anderson said. “They still have a few weeks to wait for their supplies to be ordered, and by then time will be limited for them to finish their experiments and prepare for fair.”

Anderson said that at the beginning of the school year, students were unaware of how difficult the time constraints would be to deal with.

“The students just didn’t understand how big of an effect a simple rescheduling of fair could have,” she said. “Now that they realize the time crunch, they are diligently working to overcome the difficulties and have another successful year at science fair.”

By David Anderson