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Marymount-sponsored science amazes, thrills Fort Belvoir students

“Awesome!” “Wow!” “That’s so cool!” exclaimed students at Fort Belvoir Elementary School recently, as stomp rockets flew through the air, balloons expanded and electricity set hair on end.

Usha Rajdev, Marymount University associate professor of education, organized the evening of hands-on science activities, known as Operation Patriotic STEM. Rajdev has established a partnership with the school to “give back to U.S. military families who sacrifice so much for us,” she said.

Joining in the event were educational partners Rick Varner from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Elizabeth Burke from Project Learning Tree and Tammy Maxey from Agriculture in the Classroom.

Marymount graduate students, as well as undergrads studying to become elementary school teachers, staffed the activities. They included creating lightning and static electricity with van de graaf generators, viewing Jupiter and the moon through a telescope, making and launching stomp rockets, making seed buddies that use body heat to help seeds germinate, and inflating balloons with baking soda and carbon dioxide.

“These kids love hands-on stuff,” said third-grade teacher Brigette Maynard, who earned a master’s degree at Marymount after retiring from the U.S. Navy. “One of my students wants to be an astronaut. He couldn’t wait to show me the rockets.”

“This was my first time teaching a hands-on activity,” said Brittany Watson, a master’s degree candidate. “The children were so into everything. I wasn’t expecting them to be so excited.”

Herndon ballerina heads to Big Apple

Claire de la Paz, a Classical Ballet Theatre student from Herndon, has earned one of the highest honors in the dance world: an invitation to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix 2013 New York City Finals.

Earlier this year, Claire, 11, impressed judges with her grace and technique when she performed classical ballet and contemporary variations in the organization’s regional semi-finals in Philadelphia. There she placed in the top three in the Pre-Competitive Age Division.

Claire competes April 12 in New York as a soloist against the best 9- to 11-year-old dancers in the world. Last year, she and two fellow CBT students competed in the ensemble division.

A student in Clearview Elementary School’s Advanced Academics program, Claire, who was adopted from Nanping, China, also plays piano and flute. She participates in the annual PTA Reflections program, in which she once earned third place in the country for performing her original dance choreography.

Reston music scholar interns with NSO

Jeffrey Ward of Reston is serving as an education intern for the National Symphony Orchestra, in a program sponsored by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kennedy Center selects 35 interns from an annual pool of more than 300 applicants for the 14-week internship in arts management. Ward works primarily on the NSO In-School Ensemble project, sending NSO ensembles into D.C. public and charter schools.

After graduating from Ithaca College in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in performance and music education, Ward earned a master’s degree in music performance from the San Francisco Conservatory in 2011, where he was the winner of the Baroque Concerto Competition.

Ward also is interning with Prelude: The Arlington Youth Orchestral Program. Previously, he spent a year teaching at the Community Music Center of Boston.

High school honors

• Ten students from Fairfax County high schools are among more than 800 students nationwide to win Achievement Scholarships from the 2013 National Achievement Scholarship program.

The recipients are Hayley Harris of Centreville High School, Isaaq Farah of Fairfax High School, Margaret Secor of Madison High School, Taylor Brown of McLean High School, Zeena Mubarak of Robinson Secondary School, Kenyah Calhoun and Kyannah Calhoun, both of South Lakes High School, and Morgan Cheatham, Kleo Greenwood and Howard Small Jr., all of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Each student received a $2,500 National Achievement Scholarship supported by the National Merit Scholarship Corp., with the exception of Farah, whose educational plans preclude receipt of a monetary scholarship, and Kenyah Calhoun, whose scholarship is underwritten by the Xerox Foundation.

Achievement scholarships are awarded to black high school seniors to be used for undergraduate study at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university. The National Achievement Scholarship program was founded in 1964 specifically to honor scholastically talented black Americans and to increase their opportunities for higher education.

Osasenaga Aghayere of South Lakes High School, Tyrone Simpson of South County High School and Nathaniel Smith of Lake Braddock High School have each been chosen to receive a $5,000 college scholarship from the Urban League for outstanding academic achievement.

The three will be honored April 19 at the Northern Virginia Urban League’s 23rd annual Community Service and Scholarship Awards Dinner. This year’s theme, “Educate to Innovate for a Better Tomorrow,” pays tribute to individual and corporate achievements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

• Two local teams were recognized in special awards ceremonies for their innovative entries in the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision program.

From Kilmer Middle School, eighth-graders Pallavi Bhave and Joyce Tian, and coach Susan Bates were honored April 2 for their Food Allergen Detector, which utilizes a UV laser beam to help detect and identify the presence or absence of common allergens on food.

From Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, sophomores Pooja Chandrashekar and Aishwarya Nugooru, and coach Sonia del Cerro were honored April 5 for their advanced treatment for breast cancer, which combines Fractal Dimensional Analysis and Polymethyl Methacrylate Nanoparticles to create an organized, creative protocol for prognosis and treatment.

The competition asks students to imagine ideas for technologies that could exist in 20 years.

Claire Wang, a junior at Trinity Christian School of Fairfax, won the state-level Christopher Columbus Essay Contest sponsored by the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution. She competed against 147 other essayists, writing on the topic, “How Did the Faith and Courage of Christopher Columbus Give to Mankind a New World?”

Wang received her award from the Virginia State Regent, Patricia Musick Hatfield, at the Annual Virginia State DAR Youth Luncheon in Richmond last month. R. Cody Phillips, Trinity’s upper school history teacher and school essay contest coordinator, also attended the luncheon.

Wang’s essay was sponsored by the Pentagon Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters for the American Revolution.

College credits

Amelia Hollingsworth, a Longwood University senior from Fairfax County, was selected to attend the 10th annual Teachers of Promise Institute in Virginia.

Promising students in education must be nominated by their professors to attend the conference, where they are given professional development and networking opportunities. This year’s conference was March 22-23 in Richmond.

Hollingsworth, a liberal studies/elementary education major, graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School.

Zachary Athing of Centreville was named to the dean’s list the fall 2012 semester at the Johns Hopkins University.