Students compete in county science fair (WITH GALLERY)

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 6, 2023

Mitchell Dunlap, of Fairland Middle School, presents his project, “What’s the Hottest Water Bottle on the Market?” at the Lawrence County Science Fair at Ironton Middle School on Thursday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Event was held in-person for first time since 2019

The Lawrence County Science Fair returned as an in-person event for the first time in four years on Thursday, and, with that, came changes in the way it was conducted.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, on the eve of that year’s event, the fair has taken place virtually.

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With the return of the in-person competition this year, one aspect carried over from that.

Instead of, as in year’s past, students building project boards, carrying them in and assembling them in the room, they instead saved their projects digitally and presented them on one of six SMART Boards that were set up in Ironton Middle School’s gymnasium.

“It definitely looks different,” Jeff Saunders, superintendent of the Lawrence County ESC, the agency who organizes the event, said.

Altogether, students from five school districts, in fifth through eighth grades, presented 33 projects to the judges, who came from the community, Gretta Taylor, student services coordinator for the ESC, who oversees the fair, said.

Those who participated in the county fair were winners and qualified at fairs at their individual schools, she said.

Those who earn a Superior rating can go on to compete at the district fair and, from there, the state fair in Columbus.

One of those taking part was Mitchell Dunlap, of Fairland Middle School, whose project was called “What’s the Hottest Water Bottle on the Market?”

Dunlap was overall winner at last year’s county fair and went on to compete at the district level, where he won $200 toward a scholarship.

His family is quite accomplished, academically. His sister, Meredith, won the Lawrence County Spelling Bee in December, while another sister, Molly, took first place in that event in 2018.

He said his project this year was a follow-up to the one he did last year.

He tested seven different brands of water bottles to see how they maintained a temperature.

Last year, he focused on which kept the liquid cold. This year, he was testing them for hot drinks.

Dunlap said he hypothesized that the Thermos brand would work best and was proven correct.

He said he enjoys taking part in the fair each year.

“It’s fun to test things,” he said. “And I like the choice to do what I want to test.”

Dunlap said he is undecided on his career path, but is very interested in engineering.

Awards for the county fair will be presented at a ceremony in Ironton High School’s auditorium at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9, Taylor said.