Dreams fueled by science


Fifty pennies can float on top of a 15 by 15 centimeter sheet of aluminum foil.

Don’t believe us? McKenna Durnin and Abby Grieves, Fairhope Intermediate sixth graders, can show you how.

The students won fifth place at the Auburn University Regional Science Olympiad Tournament last month, doing just that.

“You’ve got to fold it and move it and find a way to distribute the weight,” Durnin said. “Once we figured that out, we just built on that idea.”

The team of about 20 students is building their future on science after placing fourth overall in the annual competition. Fairhope Intermediate in the only school in Baldwin County to enter the competition’s elementary school division. This is the third year the team has placed in the top five among schools from across Alabama.

The competition topics cover a wide gamut of scientific endeavors including anatomy, botany, geology and astronomy. In many contests the students were tested on their knowledge. In others, they had to conduct experiments during the competition or build items such as the tin foil penny barge.

All said they loved the work because they love the pursuit of science.

“I like to ask a lot of questions and in science there are many questions,” said Austin Etheridge.

Students said they not only learned science but learned how to work together.

“A lot of it was trying to figure out the best way to work with your teammate,” said Audrey Small. “Should we divvy up the work, should we each study everything?”

Added sixth grader Silas Sims, “We really had to communicate with our teammates. But we also got to goof around and earn these awards together. It was really fun.”