Science fair time for home-schoolers to shine

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Apr 25, 2012 in Rat News | Subscribe

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HAMPTON FALLS — Jacy Abasciano wants people to know that caring for rats — specifically those named Noble, Phillip and Reepicheep — is both fun and educational.

The 12-year-old displayed her family’s trio of pet rats and a detailed visual of rat anatomy during her presentation at a home-school science fair held recently at the Hampton Falls First Baptist Church.

“I loved it,” Jacy said about sharing her independent research project alongside about two dozen other participants at the science fair. “I liked how you could see different people’s interests in what they displayed.”

Those interests varied widely, representing many realms within the scientific world from “The Power of Fruit” to “God’s Fingerprint: The Golden Spiral” of the Fibonacci sequence.

Jacy’s brother Noah, 14, had developed an electronic trip wire for his science fair project. Fellow participants explored rockets and space, cell anatomy, breathing and respiration, tornadoes, crickets, different forms of energy, worms, crystals, chickens, geology, static electricity, stalagmites and more.

Middle-school age students took turns presenting their projects to their younger peers, and there was time for questions and answers posed by both sides while families and guests listened.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to focus on something specific in the science curriculum — spend time on it and explore it and show off what they’re doing,” said Noah and Jacy’s mother, Valerie Abasciano. “It was excellent. I’m sure it will keep getting better as more people hear about it.”

The science fair was open to students in grades K-12, and was organized by parents Ingrid Nicholson, Allison O’Neil and Catie McLaughlin through the Hampton Christian Home Schoolers group.

“The work level was really strong,” O’Neil said. “The projects showed they put in a lot of effort and time.”

Part of the day’s events included a scavenger hunt involving numbered name tags for presenters, with specific questions asked at each project display.

“We wanted it to be a little interactive, and wanted to keep kids busy and not (just) walk by,” said Nicholson, adding that prizes were awarded for top-notch hunters.

At the core of the home-school science fair is about a half-dozen families, who meet on a regular basis to discuss curriculum, work on lessons and plan field trips together.

“I have been wanting to do a science fair since I began home-schooling four years ago,” said Nicholson, adding that she told herself, “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.”

During the organizational process, she collected input from other home school families and kept tabs on potential projects.

“I had everybody let me know what they were choosing to do, so I had an eye on what was going to be displayed, mainly because I didn’t want five volcanoes,” she said. “Everybody came out with something different and I thought, ‘This is terrific!'”

The event also featured presentations by guest speakers such as Merrimack College chemistry professor Steve Theberge and Mark Sohmer of Open Air Campaigners. Sohmer’s talk on “The Chemical Cross” utilized chemical reactions in a gospel-focused interactive presentation.

“Science doesn’t have to be at odds with God,” Sohmer told his audience.

The science fair wrapped up with a presentation by the Rev. Paul Veit, aka The Dino Pastor, who gave a “Stones Bones-Claws Jaws” presentation with a decidedly creationist perspective embraced by the audience.

Overall, “(everyone’s) response was so positive,” O’Neil said. “They were already asking about next year.”

“It was great to see their creativeness and what everybody was learning,” said Nicholson. “That’s the fun part of it.”

Nicholson acknowledged that home schooling is a personal choice that works well for her family and for others, whether or not they embrace the Christian faith.

“I want to be involved, and I want to be a part of my kid’s life,” she said, adding that home schooling took “a leap of faith and just trusting that what we’re doing is in God’s hands. He has proved that it was the right decision for us.”

For those who may not be totally familiar with the whys and wherefores of home schooling, there is still somewhat of a stigma attached to the idea of teaching lessons away from the structure of a public school classroom.

“It is interesting, because the biggest question is about socializing,” Nicholson said. If anything, “we’re too socialized — we have no time for all the things we’re doing. I have to say ‘no’ because we so busy with so much stuff, but it’s a good busy.

“It’s definitely a lifestyle change, but I think of all the close friends that I have now that I would never have if we stayed doing what we were doing,” said Nicholson. “My daughter would say, ‘I wouldn’t know these people if we didn’t home school. I’m so thankful to have them as friends.'”

There’s an acceptance of all ages among this particular group of home-schooled children, said Nicholson.

“They play so well together. It’s just such an awesome experience that I’d love for everybody to (have).” Nicholson added that “if people are curious and they want to know (about home schooling), I’d love to share with them. We have some moms that work part-time, we have some that are single moms, there’s home-schoolers in single-parent homes. It can be done. It’s not easy, but raising kids isn’t easy. There’s always a challenge.”

Questions for Nicholson and the Hampton Christian Homeschool Group can be sent via e-mail to The Dino Pastor is scheduled to present at Winnacunnet High School in May. Find information at


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