MISSOULA — Missoula International School has a small student population compared to many others around the city and state, yet out of 27 eighth grade students, five of them placed first or second in the Montana State Science Fair -- and are part of the 10% who qualified for nationals.
“I know the students are good thinkers and they’ve got these great self-management skills, and they have these great collaborative skills but it’s so great to see in these competitions that run outside of the school that I’m not the only one who thinks that," said science teacher Jen Gebo.
Much of what sets these eighth grader students apart is their creative ideas; they are focused on a much bigger picture. “I studied how urban development affects the pH of soil," said Montana Physical Science State Champion Bryce Lannom
“We investigated edible substances with different pH levels and see if that had any affect after swallowing a battery in the esophagus," Montana State Fair Biology Champions Stella Harberd and Megan Willis told MTN News.
“We did a model basically putting roots on the base of a house to help decrease the effect erosion had on that house," Montana State Physical Science runners-up, Kintla Thomas and Izzy Poteet stated.
Over the course of a few weeks, these students worked through the Scientific Method, got their results, and presented their work at the State Science Fair. All in an unusual year.
According to Willis and Harberd, “During the process the connection was kind of weird, but it was nice.” “I think Covid made such a huge impact because we had a shorter amount of time to do it, but it was more difficult.”
“I put all of my project on a website. So, I had different pages for each of my like introduction, hypothesis, or my methods," Lannom said.
The end result was more than Gebo and her students could have ever expected.
“We were very, very excited, I mean we were jumping up and down when we figured out what place we got in the state science fair," Poteet said.
The five will find out in September if they are one of the 30 national finalists.