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7the grade student Nate Dawson shows his research project at the NBJH science fair Jan. 30

At Northbrook Junior High, late January is the beginning of Science Fair season. For many of the students who spent the fall semester researching, documenting, analyzing a topic of their choosing, this is go time.

Saturday Jan. 20 marked the culmination of their efforts when they presented their research project and findings to a panel of three judges. The judges evaluate the oral presentation, the written work and scientific method of the experiments based on the Illinois Junior Academy of Science rubric.

There are gold, silver and bronze awards. A total of 47 students presented their projects and 39 students are advancing to the Illinois Junior Academy of Science regional competition, which will be held on March 2nd Stevenson High School. Those who receive Gold awards at regionals will advance to state competition in May.

The students learn the scientific method, how to research and find appropriate sources, conduct and control their experiments and how to present their findings in a research paper complemented with graphs, statistics and visual evidence.

“This class is unique because students are determining what they’re studying. It sets them up for high school and college by building skills to be independent learners.  And you just see joy of learning in these students, said Science Teacher Lauren Johnson, who supports the students along with teachers Fred Yoon and Amber Paull. 

“I learned a lot about determination and what I like more in science. It helps you see what you’re truly interested in,” said 8th-grade student Henry Gartz, who participated for the 2nd year.

Science Fair is also an annual event for many of the judges, who return year after year to volunteer, many of whom were student researchers themselves. David and Alex Braden graduated NBJH in 1998. The twin brothers have returned most years to spend a Saturday morning reviewing students' work. “We just really enjoy doing it,” David said. They were among the 32 judges, current and former staff members, former students now in high school, community members, family and friends who volunteer to make the event possible.

Watch the Video! for more information.

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