Three HHS Students Participate in White House Science Fair

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Three Huntington High School student were invited to Washington Tuesday for the second-ever White House Science Fair hosted by President Barack Obama.

Students Ben Jones, Emily Waybright, Derek Carson, and their teachers Rick Sharpe and Carla Snell, were all invited by the White House to represent NASA and their work with that agencies’ GLOBE program.

“We were truly honored to be invited,” says Rick Sharpe, Huntington High School science teacher and project leader. “There were a lot of heavy hitters there from all branches of government and from the scientific community, including the administrators from NASA. The students got to hear the President speak and we were able to meet many interesting people.”

According to Mr. Sharpe, the Huntington High School students began working with NASA’s online GLOBE platform three years ago after he attended a professional development session where he was trained in GLOBE surface temperature protocols.

Beginning in December each year, during a GLOBE Intense Observation Period (IOP), students go out daily and take nine surface temperature observations on each surface defined in the GLOBE website. These observations are made using an infrared thermometer and students record the observations at the GLOBE website for use by students and scientists around the world.

“The students are showing how a surface absorbs or reflects solar energy and how that can influence climate change,” says Sharpe. “Energy that is reflected goes back into space while the energy absorbed is re-emitted in long-wave infrared radiation that is trapped by greenhouse gases and stays on Earth.”

The particular student project exhibited at the White House Science Fair examined the relationship between cloud cover and surface temperatures. Students used data from the GLOBE website reported by schools in Ohio, West Virginia, and in Trinidad-Tobago to study how cloud cover influenced surface temperatures.

All of Mr. Sharpe’s and Mrs. Snell’s Environmental Science classes participated in the Intense Observation Period and developed a question based on GLOBE surface temperature protocols. The student teams then searched the GLOBE website database for data to answer their questions and developed a PowerPoint presentation or a three-sided project board to present their conclusions. Student teams then videoed their presentations and uploaded the videos to the SATELLITES Virtual Science Fair on Teacher Tube.

A SATELLITES conference is held in April at the University of Toledo where the winning teams present their projects.

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