Students, parents, and teachers proved education is a family affair during a parent night Feb. 21, 2017 at Mesa Elementary School in Shiprock. It was a chance for the students to show parents their finalized school science fair projects on display.
“We had about 40 projects, an increase. And the projects are quality,” said Jeff Hammons, the enrichment teacher at Mesa Elementary. “The kids can actually direct a project where they steer it to where they want it to go, and they really take ownership of it. And they can see a completed project. The kids take pride.”
The importance of a school science fair in education was well known to parent Ned Begay who was there to see his son Nevaughn’s project, which took 1st place for physical science in his grade.
“Working on projects and learning how to go through different steps to learn how things work, I think that’s something all of my kids have learned: In order for them to really find out how a science project can work they have to do the research behind it, and put the work and effort into it.”
Ned and his wife Sheila Begay are also the parents of Justin Begay—the 2014 Shiprock High valedictorian who is now a junior at Stanford University studying mechanical engineering. Justin’s total scholarship offers from colleges and universities nationwide totaled approximately one million dollars.
Justin attended Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School in Shiprock before he went to Shiprock High, and then to Stanford University. Ned and Sheila’s other son Kevin is now a senior at Shiprock High.
“We always want the best for them,” Ned said. “We just need to make them understand they have the ability to make the change for themselves. Once they set a goal ‘this is what I want to be,’ they have the ability to do that. We just want them to know that they can do it, and be there as a supporter. That way they understand ‘if I work for this, I can do this.’”
Mesa Elementary School parent Amber Redhouse added she was proud of her daughter for placing in her category on her science fair project. “She put a lot of work into it. It’s nice to see their efforts get rewarded. … It’s nice (this event) was after hours so I was able to get over here and support her and the other kids.
“I think a lot kids are really discouraged these days,” Amber added. “If they can put effort into what they’re learning and it’s fun and it’s hands-on, they’re not bored. If they can get praise and be recognized and feel good about what they’ve done, it will help them continue to be interested in school and motivated to do things in the future.”
Mesa Elementary School Science Fair results:
- Kindergarten – 4th grade Engineering & Computer Science: Elliot C., 1st place, Optic Telescopes; Jewel J., How to Make a Microphone
- K-4 Environmental Sciences: Maysah N. took 1 st place for Understanding Ecology; Alexis Ball was 2nd place for The Ice Project; and Yehlena W. for Salt Water into Fresh Water
- K-4 Chemistry: Arianna T. took 1st place for Soda vs. Juices; Alana R. was 2nd place for Salt Water; Ms. Guillen’s class, Kinder Shiny Pennies, and Keenai R., Blow Up a Balloon with Yeast, tied for 3rd place
- K-4 Biology: Charmista B. took 1st place for Remedy of a Banana Peel
- K-4 Animal Science: Taylor C. took 1st place for Pause for Cat Paws
- K-4 Physical Sciences: Lujan B. took 1st place for Floating Egg; Clint L. was 2nd place for Macro-Lens; and Kayden L. had 3rd place for Dancing Milk
- K-4 Behavioral and Social Sciences: Iyinashia M. took 1st place for How Hard Would it be Without a Thumb; Kira B. was 2nd place for What Flavor Lasts the Longest; Benet Y. had 3rd place for How the Human Hand Works
- 5th Grade Environmental Sciences: Jude T. took 1st place for Horizontal Wind Turbines vs. Vertical Wind Turbines
- 5th Physical Sciences: Nevaughn B. took 1st place for Mentos and Diet Coke Rocket Car
- 5th Biology: Rashaun D. took 1st place for The Disappearing Eggshell
Mesa Elementary competed in the 2017 Navajo Nation Science Fair, Feb. 28 and March 1, 2017, at Red Rock Park near Gallup.