September 16, 2008

Bellbrook Middle School Wins State Science Award

By Jeremy P. Kelley Staff Writer

SUGARCREEK TWP., Greene County -- Excellence in science has become the norm at Bellbrook Middle School, but a recent award makes clear just how strong the school's work is.

BMS is one of only three Miami Valley public schools to win the Governor's Award for Excellence in Youth Science Opportunities for the 2007-08 school year.

Jackson Center and Fairborn high schools were the other local public schools honored, and seven Catholic schools in the Miami Valley were among the 73 schools chosen statewide.

To win the award, given by the Ohio Academy of Science, a school must hold a local science fair with 20 or more students, qualify at least one student to the district science day, and have at least one out-of-classroom science opportunity for students.

BMS far surpassed those standards, according to seventh-grade science teacher Cathy St. Pierre, who was one of 209 teachers honored individually.

She said BMS had 70 students at its fair, qualified 18 students to the district event and offered many special opportunities, ranging from the school's science club, to students working with scientists at Wright State University and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

"Personally, when you consider the pool of schools that could apply, it's amazing that so few were honored," St. Pierre said. "It really takes extra work. I'm thrilled for the students."

This is the 12th straight year BMS has earned the award, and the 18th that St. Pierre was recognized, going back to her days at Milton-Union High School. She said support from parents, administration and science professionals is important, but so is motivation.

"Providing the opportunity is a start," St. Pierre said. "We do work on local fair projects in classroom, but the county, district and state fairs are all from the students' own motivation. The opportunity to work with peers who are equally involved in science is motivating.

"And being grouped with talented peers and seeing how much better they could be makes them set higher standards."

St. Pierre said the electron microscope work the students got to do through Wright-Patt was a great example of the students' desire to learn. Eighteen students could go at a time, and BMS had so many kids interested, St. Pierre had to choose participants based on "why- I-want-togo" summaries that they wrote.

"If you can spark that interest, they will go beyond," she said. "The way to do it is to show science is real, it is everyday, it is all around us."

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2278 or [email protected]

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