Frewsburg Club Receives Grant For Statewide Science Fair

FREWSBURG – Science is considered a favorite subject for many students, but for some, it is becoming a way of life.

Students who are members of Frewsburg Central School’s Science Squad are experiencing science in an exciting and personal way through the assistance of a grant, which was secured by the school recently.

The grant was awarded to Paula Ferneza, founder and adviser of the Science Squad, by the Ying Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair, which is hosted annually in Syracuse during the month of March. According to Ferneza, who created the Science Squad this past October, the Ying TRSEF was impressed with the amount of activity and interest that has surrounded the Science Squad in just a brief time span.

“When I applied for the grant they wanted to know a lot of information regarding the club, as well as the age level of the kids and what they were doing,” said Ferneza. “Our application had a good number of students. There are 25 in the club, and we had done so much in such a short time period. (The Ying TRSEF) were just so impressed with the response of the students and how we set this up and how much we’ve done.”

She added: “And they were thrilled to find this happening at the secondary level because they usually only see this sort of thing at the primary level.”

The Science Squad club meets after school, is open to students in grades 7-12 and requires nothing but an interest in science and research.

“It’s for any student who wants to be (involved),” said Ferneza. “They don’t have to be a great science student, but they do have to have an interest in the things we do. The whole idea of the club is to learn about science in a fun, casual way that isn’t as structured as it would be in a classroom setting.”

“The key is that I want (to promote) student-centered research and have them determine what they want to research,” she continued. “It really helps them to build up their resumes, and being part of a science and engineering fair is going to be a great item to have on their (college) applications. So it’s just a club that I’m volunteering to do, and I wanted to keep the flame alive, so to speak, because the more we can keep the passion going, the more driven they’ll be to go into a field or pursue a career.”

The club has participated in science-based projects such as T-shirt tie-dying and learning the science behind it. Club members have also been maintaining and watering a vivarium, complete with several types of plants, a sunroom and a fish pond.

The Science Squad has hopes of making community connections to have guest speakers talk about how science relates to their professions, picking up volunteering opportunities with the Jamestown Audubon Society and participating in a community wide clean-up on Earth Day to promote awareness.

The Ying TRSEF grant is providing the Science Squad with $500 to help them achieve these goals. The grant amount has been matched by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, which also provided an extra $300 to help in the promotion of the club’s community clean-up on Earth Day.

The grant money was acquired through the assistance of Mary Eileen Wood, a director at Ying TRSEF, and is being used to help cover transportation costs to and from the Audubon Society.

The money will also allow for a club field trip in which Science Squad members will have a chance to visit either the Buffalo Museum of Science or the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland.

The Science Squad is making preparations to send a minimum of five members to Syracuse to participate in the 2013 Ying Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair, which will take place on March 17-18.