Encouraging Students to Excel

As we reported a few days ago, important scientific research has been conducted regarding three important topics – development of an economical new building material for people in developing nations, how children’s teeth are affected by sugary drinks and coping with Japanese knotweed, an invasive plant.

If you missed our story, your first question may be how much the research cost taxpayers. Not a dime.

Next, you may wonder what prestigious universities or research organizations were involved. None of them.

All three investigations were by local students whose work won awards in the annual West Liberty University Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Wheeling Park High School ninth-grader Miriam Demassi’s project was on “Lime-Fly Ash Papercrete” as a building material. St. Michael Parish School eighth-grader Daniel O’Leary studied the effect of light on Japanese knotweed. St. Vincent de Paul Parish School sixth-grader Daisy Reasbeck’s research on sugary drinks and baby teeth was titled “What’s in Your Toddler’s Sippy Cup?”

Impressive work? You bet. Each one of the winning projects has the potential to improve millions of lives.

This is not the first time students competing in the science and engineering fair have come up with excellent projects. It happens year after year. Some local winners have gone on to careers in science.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to hold events that showcase the talents of young students in a variety of ways, ranging from science to social studies. Finding money for them always is a challenge. Convincing sponsors to provide sites and other facilities is difficult. Finally, convincing educators it is important to encourage and help students participate is not easy.

Encouraging young people to pursue excellence is important. Recognizing them for their talent and hard work is critical.

Kudos, then, to all involved in the West Liberty University Regional Science and Engineering Fair – especially to its sponsors, the Wheeling Civitan Club and the J.B. Chambers Memorial Foundation. Let’s hope their dedication is emulated by others interested in encouraging local young people to excel.