Small but mighty, that’s the best way to put it.
Middle school students from St. Stephen Catholic School, a school of just over 300 students, competed against 1,800 children from public, private and magnet schools in the Hillsborough County Regional Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Fair, and walked home with many of the fair’s top awards.
During the competition held in February, the school’s entrants "wowed" the judges with three students winning Best of Show in their respective categories. They are slated to compete in the Florida STEM Fair in April.
St. Stephen’s principal, Therese Jackson, believes that “our emphasis on critical thinking empowered our students to produce such excellent work. The students' extraordinary abilities to articulate their hypothesis and the scientific process impressed the judges. Our teachers' commitment to the school mission of inspiring all students to reach their highest academic potential enabled so many of our students to do well. St Stephen is blessed with so many master teachers who continually keep themselves updated on the latest educational trends. They have already begun implementing the National Common Core Standards, which calls for instructional practices enabling students to think at higher levels and contribute to their own learning.”
The first place winners include:
Sixth-grader Patrick McCormick--Junior Computer Science: Animation Calculation
Seventh-grader Marisa Luciano--Junior Medicine & Health: Is Dance a Sport?
Sixth-grader Colton Lewis--Junior Physics: Magnets in Charge
The St. Stephen winners were not only impressed with the number of times the school was called, but by how supportive their schoolmates were when they won.
“It didn’t matter who won.” said Marisa Luciano, 12 years old. “Everyone from school was so supportive and excited for each other throughout the process.”
“We were one of the smallest schools there, but it was really cool how our students’ names kept getting called for awards.” said Patrick McCormick, 12 years old, who was nervous but felt well prepared to answer the judges' questions.
“It was a lot of work (preparing for the science fair), but I loved it all the way through,” said 12-year-old Colton Lewis. “I learned that I can present better than I thought; I was prepared to explain it all to the judges. The teachers made it a priority to help us, and it paid off.”
Jackson added, “Before graduating, all eighth-grade students take a science physics course, enabling them to receive high school credit. The emphasis on critical thinking and objective mastery in all subject areas contributed to this most recent accolade in the field of science. St. Stephen’s dedication to hands-on learning could easily be seen in the special award titled: Nelda Mason Memorial.”
Also placing in the regional science fair was Jacob Rachubka, second place in Junior Microbiology; Kollin Boje, third place in Junior Physics; and Lance Talcott, third place in Junior Mathematics.
Talcott also won a special recognition award from the United States Air Force for his mathematics project titled Rockets and the Aerodynamic Forces in Flight.
Colton Lewis won the Nelda Mason Memorial Award given for his outstanding hands-on science.
Merit awards were won by Julie Holden and Melody Hoffman, grade six, as well as Danh Cooney and Joey Bell, grade seven.
In the elementary level, Isabella Wuco, grade five, won an Outstanding medal for her project titled Caffeine Frenzy. Winning merit ribbons were Halle Minick, grade five, Jack Stein and Zachary Evans, grade four, and Alessandra Wuco and Ashton Herndon, grade three.
St. Stephen Catholic School is fully accredited and teaches early childhood through eighth grade. It is located at 10424 Saint Stephen Circle in Riverview. Contact Carin Shadwick at 813-741-9203 for more information.