HICKORY – Fourth and fifth-graders wandered wide-eyed into the library of Hickory High School on Thursday with tri-folds in tow, hoping to place in the science fair.

The high school hosted the annual Science Showcase for Academically and Intellectually Gifted students from Hickory Public Schools’ elementary schools, inviting the top three science projects from each school to compete.

Judges from the Catawba Science Center judged projects on topics such as the sublimation of dry ice, the effect of chewing gum on concentration and solar vs. wind energy.

AIG Specialist Janet Hambrick said the kids had been working on the projects for months, and that it was a real treat for them to visit Hickory High.

“They’re so excited about being at the high school,” Hambrick said.

And some of the high school students were excited to see them, too.

Senior Isaiah Hunt stopped in the mall area of the school between classes to greet the children, shaking their hands and welcoming them to the school.

“I used to be that age and I wish I had somebody to lead,” Hunt said. “I just want to help be there – I just want to be a leader.”

While the judges took their final tallies, the elementary students spent more time with the high schoolers, conducting science experiments in a Hickory High science lab.

Later that evening, family arrived at the library to hear the winners announced.

In first place was Oakwood Elementary fifth-grader Kayla Ruff, who tested the water quality of nearby streams and then took samples of living organisms in the water, which she displayed in glass jars in front of her tri-fold.

“Urbanization is definitely impacting the water quality of streams,” Ruff said. “For example, Cripple Creek didn’t have a good water quality at all, it actually had a poor water quality and I predicted that I wouldn’t find very many organisms, and I was right.”

 In second and third place respectively were Clint Powers of Jenkins Elementary and Judah Sloane of Oakwood Elementary.

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