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DOI Educational Partnerships Program: DOI Employees Participate SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C.’s Annual Science Fair SEED Public Charter School’s Annual Science Fair


Bureau: Department of the Interior


  Group photo of some of the volunteers who participated in the SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C.'s Sixth Annual Science Fair.  
  Representatives from the Department of the Interior and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation who participated in the SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C.'s Sixth Annual Science Fair on April 30, 2014, gather for a group photo. [Volunteers from left include Robert Pos (USFWS); Cecil Slaughter (OSM); Daniel Bowater (NFWF); Theresa Jefferson (BLM); Candace Leong (NFWF); Michael Lagua ((NFWF), and Matthew Preston (BLM). DOI volunteers not in this photo are Melissa McAbee (IBC) and Lora Turner (BOEM).] Photo by Brenda Woods, DOI.
   BOEM volunteer Lora Turner standing beside a student at the SEED D.C. student at the science fair.
  Lora Turner (BOEM) poses with a SEED D.C. student. Photo by Brenda Woods, DOI.
   IBC volunteer Mellissa McAbee reviewing a student's science fair project with a SEED D.C. student at the science fair.
  Melissa McAbee, (IBC) reviews a science project with SEED D.C. student. Photo by Brenda Woods, DOI.

On April 30, representatives from the Department of the Interior served as judges at The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C.'s Sixth Annual Science Fair. This is the second year the DOI has participated in the event. Fifty-two eighth-grade physical science students participated in the event. The program was coordinated by Bernard David, physical science teacher, with assistance from JaWan Harris, science instructional coach, and the science department staff.

The DOI employees joined representatives from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and other school partner organizations at the event. The DOI volunteers included Robert Pos, fishery biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Theresa Jefferson, environmental education specialist, Bureau of Land Management; Melissa McAbee, transformation officer, Interior Business Center; Matthew Preston, climate change liaison, Bureau of Land Management; Lora Turner, oceanographer, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; and Cecil Slaughter, hydrologist, Office of Surface Mining. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation volunteers were grants administrators Candace Leong, Daniel Bowater and Michael Lagua.

The science fair projects were judged in six categories: biology, chemistry, physics, best board, most creative project, and best in show. Excitement filled the room as the winners were announced. Proudly standing on stage the students received their award. 

The first-place winners in the respective categories include Lani S. for biology, Dajhauna W. for chemisty, Charles B. for physics, Genai B. for best board, Jasia S. for most creative project, and Wandell R. for best in show.

The science fair volunteers shared their experience serving as a judge at the event. "I love working with these kids and future scientists, chemists, physicists, and biologists," Pos said. I always learn something new, the kids are always eager to show off their work, and hopefully our combined enthusiasms will cause them to want to stay in the field."

Preston said, "The students showed great enthusiasm for the scientific process and produced high-quality, informational, and entertaining projects."

"I can honestly say that was my first science fair, I really enjoyed the enthusiasm from each student that presented their project to me," Turner said. "To watch them apply science methods and explain how they designed an experiment at such an early age is heart-warming and inspiring. I didn't think I could get any more stoked about my science passions but no doubt the kids offered a whole new level and energy to science. They did a fantastic job!"

McAbee said, "I enjoyed observing the SEED DC young scientists give thoughtful and informative presentations about their projects. By participating in the SEED DC Science Fair, students find answers to their many questions, which flow out of their curiosity and are a very important part of their thought process. Working on science projects helps students make connections in their minds between different things they have experienced. I look forward to seeing the students again next year, and seeing their new projects!"

Leong said, “As a first time science fair judge I was highly impressed by the professionalism of the staff, other judges, but more importantly the students. They did a GREAT job explaining their project both in oral and written form. They were excited to present their findings and their enthusiasm was contagious. I encourage all of the students to keep being curious and continue asking questions —I see a bright future for all of them.”

The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C., opened in 1998 as the first urban public boarding school in the nation. The school now operates one campus in Washington, D.C, and Baltimore, Md. SEED DC is a college preparatory boarding school and serves students from sixth through twelfth grade.

As part of its education outreach, DOI has close relationships with schools located in the D.C. metropolitan area. The partner schools have included School Without Walls, Ross Elementary School, The Lab School of Washington, The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C., C. Melvin Sharpe Health School, and Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy. The schools serves students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grades. 

The mission of DOI's Educational Partnerships Program has been to provide available departmental resources to help enrich the school curriculum by fostering interest in natural resources, cultural heritage, environmental protection, conservation education, motivate children to read, increase awareness regarding careers in natural resources, cultural heritage and the STEM fields, provide internship and fellowship opportunities for students, and connecting youth to nature.

The Department of the Interior's participation in science fairs provides an opportunity to expose students to careers and DOI professionals in the STEM fields. For additional information about volunteer opportunities, contact Brenda Woods at (202) 208-3617 or via e-mail at Brenda_Woods@ios.doi.gov.

By: Brenda Woods, program manager, Educational Partnerships Program, OS, DOI
May 16, 2014