Two Green Cove Springs Junior High students place fourth at state science fair

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 4/14/21

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Bright futures are ahead for two local junior high students who won the county’s science fair and finished fourth at the state competition.

Samuel Nye and Kathryn McNeil, …

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Two Green Cove Springs Junior High students place fourth at state science fair

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Bright futures are ahead for two local junior high students who won the county’s science fair and finished fourth at the state competition.

Samuel Nye and Kathryn McNeil, both 14-year-old eighth graders at Green Cove Springs Junior High, went as far in the state as junior high students can go: the state competition. Only high school students can compete in the international science fair next month, so Nye and McNeil can’t compete. But that isn’t stopping them from preparing for next year when they’re eligible.

“They can’t go to the [Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair] because they’re in middle school and it’s kind of a shame, because I know they’d both do well there,” said the students’ science teacher, Christopher Nooney, said.

McNeill’s project was focused on the ways temperature affects the productivity of a solar cell, or in other words, how temperature affects the voltage a solar panel can produce. Nye’s project was about roof trusses and the amounts of pressure different trusses can support. McNeill came up with her experiment as a result of her interest in solar panels and new ways to achieve energy efficiency in the future. Nye’s came from the battles against hurricanes that Florida homeowners face each year.

Both projects excelled at the county’s science fair, with Nye and McNeill taking home first place in their respective categories. They said the following weeks consisted of lots of paperwork, video presentations and more. Nooney said it’s a nerve-racking process, but neither student faulted under the pressure – all while maintaining their focus in class.

“You ask what I think about these students and I’m realizing that I could talk to you for an hour about them,” Nooney said. “They’re excellent students. They achieved success at the county science fair and we’re all so proud of them for taking home fourth at the state science fair.”

Fourth out of hundreds of students is not bad at all, and a great head start on ninth grade, which opens them up to the possibility of competing at the international fair.

Nooney said he knows they’ll both make it to international fair one day. He also said he knew their projects this year would be as successful.

“When in the selection process, where everyone picks what they’re project is going to be, you can tell which students are just trying to get it done and which students are looking to go beyond that,” Nooney said. “These two students weren’t trying to figure out how much water different brands of paper towel absorbs. They were trying to solve a real-world problem ... and that kind of dedication can be seen in their projects.”

Nye’s parents, Deja and Stephen Nye, said they are extremely proud of their son. Stephen works in construction and he said it was great to see his son work on a project akin to something he does for work.

“I learned things about roof trusses I didn’t even know, and I work on roof trusses, so for my son to be able to teach me something new, it was really special,” Stephen said.

Both Nye and McNeill have plans to pursue something in the STEM field for their careers. Nye is set on oncology, or the study of cancers, while McNeil said she’s got her eyes on either engineering or the medical field.

Nooney said regardless of what they decide to do, they’ll excel because “that’s what they do.”

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