Thank you, Mrs. Mitchell: Reflecting on science fairs

Memorabilia from my science fair days

Yesterday, I took five of my sixth grade students and four projects to the Gwinnett Regional Science and Engineering Fair. I am our school’s local science fair director. (Doesn’t that sound fancy?)  This is the second year I have required all of my students to complete science fair projects as part of our class, and the fourth year I have taken students to the regional science fair. (The first two years we did science fair as an extracurricular club.)

I love science fair. I remember always wanting to do science fair projects. When I got to high school, I thought it would finally be my chance. I did a project at my private school my freshman year about plants. Then I transfered to a public high school the next year, but my new school did not have an organized science fair. However, I talked to my sophomore biology teacher about doing a project, and I completed one and went to the regional science fair in my county. I still remember the title of that project – “The Sky and Your Eye.” Honestly, it was not a great project, but I caught the eye of one of the judges, Mrs. Mitchell, who happened to also be a teacher at my school. She took me under her wing, and she helped me do really great science fair research. Since I was so interested in space, I started a study of micrometeorites. She helped me with ideas, she gave me guidance, she hooked me up with research facilities so I can use microscopes and other equipment. I was never in Mrs. Mitchell’s class (she taught Earth science, which is what I teach now), but she still cared about me and my success. I went to the State level with my project my junior year, and I decided to continue my project the following year. I also advanced to State my senior year. I definitely had the science fair bug!

So when I started teaching science, I knew I wanted to bring this awesome experience to my students. I wanted them to share the joy of scientific discovery as well as the excitement of sharing your research with scientists and engineers in the field.

Spending the day at the science fair with my students yesterday and seeing their excitement definitely makes all of the hard work worthwhile!

I bet you are wondering how my kids did. Well, there were 117 middle school projects (grades 6-8).  Of the 117 projects, there were 70 projects in the physical science division. All of my students who participated are sixth graders.

3rd place in Physics & Astronomy

Taylor’s project placed 3rd in the Physics and Astronomy category. Her project studied the effect of temperature on magnetism.

2nd place in Chemistry

Michelle’s project came in second place in the Chemistry  category. She studied the effect of temperature on the rate of crystal growth.

2nd place in Computers

Logan’s project came in second place in the Computers category. He created an ideal city of the future using SimCity 4. He also received a special award: a $500 scholarship to the college that hosted the science fair!

1st place in Energy & Transportation

Kent and Brett completed a team project in the Energy & Transportation category. They came in first place with their study of wind versus solar energy as a viable power source in our county. In addition to winning first place in their category, they were the Overall Winner in the Physical Sciences! They will advance to the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair to represent our county and school at the State level.

I am so proud of all of my students and what they accomplished. They represented themselves and our school well at the science fair. I am so glad they have caught the science fair bug. It’s all thanks to Mrs. Mitchell and they way she believed in me that I could continue the chain and help my students reach new heights!

By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.


  1. Congratulations to you and your students! My daughter always enjoyed the science fair in elementary school. Last year she and her partner won the overall prize for their project extracting DNA from fruit. Too bad our middle school and high school don’t continue. I’ll start bugging the science teachers again!

    1. Thanks, Kay! In my middle school, I am the only one who does it, and I teach sixth grade. I really want to convince our seventh and eighth grade teachers to jump on board. Our high school is brand new (they just opened this year), so I hope I can get them on board as well. There are so many great opportunities as students get into high school as well.

      Good luck convincing your science teachers!

  2. Congratulations to you and your students. It looks like you’re following the path of Mrs Mitchell in the life of these students. As a parent, I wish for my 2 girls to have at least one inspirational teacher in their life – I did. Funny that as a teacher I don’t feel I have to be that one although I’ve had some “indicators” in the last year both from an academic and pastoral sense.

    Relish and cherish these moments.


    1. Thanks, Malyn. I really hope I can inspire my kids even a fraction of the amount that Mrs. Mitchell did for me. I was really lucky because I had several amazing teachers who inspired me and believed in me. I have some great memories from being in class in high school!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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