First published in the Feb. 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
By Scott Albright
Special to the Outlook Valley Sun
Photos courtesy Oscar Cruz
After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, La Cañada Flintridge private schools the Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory recently held their 22nd annual Science Fair.
With more than 95 entrants, ranging in age from 8 to 13, the fair proudly displayed students’ experiments, which covered eight different scientific disciplines.
The schools’ science department, headed by Annette Kiureghian and Steve Miller, began the fair in 2000 as an experiment with a very simple hypothesis: Elementary school students are capable of presenting a science fair project for judging and public viewing.
“It is important to motivate students with science,” said the Learning Castle head science teacher Annette Kiureghian. “They can explore, research, and learn new concepts. Students can also share their projects and ideas with their teachers, parents, friends and classmates.”
Kiureghian said that the judges were very impressed with the high level of work being done by all the students.
“It is important for younger students to experience what it’s like to be a ‘mini-expert’ on particular topic,” said Norman Baker, head science teacher for the 5th and 6th grades. “I was so impressed with how my students presented their work to the public. I’ve had high school and college-level students not do as well.”
The top 7th-grade projects will be considered for admission into the Los Angeles County Science Fair, the annual science and engineering fair for public and private middle and high school students being held at the Shrine Expo Hall on March 12 and 13.
“We are so fortunate to have so many generous and gifted parents from the fields of medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, engineering and science to serve as judges,” said Terry Villanueva, director of the Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory. “They are very busy people who give up most of their day to be here for this event.”
A special awards assembly was recently held to recognize the students with the top-three projects in each grade along with honorable mentions and awards for merit. More than 200 students and parents attended the ceremony.
“Survival and success in modern society means that each of us — whether artist, teacher, janitor or physicist — needs to understand some science and to think scientifically. As a community, we face decisions about our diet, environment and economy that require an informed public,” Steve Miller, the head science teacher for 7th- and 8th-grades, said at the fair.
The Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory are private schools for 4-year-olds through 8th-graders located at 4490 Cornishon Ave.