Two Hazlet students have just been recognized on a national scale after presenting their science fair project in Ottawa. 

Eleventh graders Tessa Todd and Braden Baumann have participated in science fairs together for four years and aren’t strangers to the national level, qualifying in 2022 with a sanitizing robot. This time, their bronze-winning project fell into a more psychological field. 

“This year we decided to study different learning styles with the VARK model, which is looking into visual, audio, reading/writing and kinesthetic learning styles,” explained Baumann. “We decided to see if that model was actually improving people's learning or whether that was just effort that could be put into something else.” 

The students investigated the matter by first giving test and control groups a standardized quiz to determine the learning model that suited them best. After that, the control group was given presentations which matched their style, and the test group was given a different one. 

“We chose the topic of armadillos because that's something that not many people know about, but it's interesting to learn about,” said Todd. “We had 28 participants, which isn't enough people to be conclusive, it's just a small data set for this experiment, and to run along with the research that we did.” 

Once the study participants were tested, the students discovered a discrepancy between test and control groups of 4 per cent, which they state was a correlation, but not as strong as many have thought. Upon being awarded bronze and four post-secondary entrance scholarships, Baumann believed surprise was his first reaction. 

"It was definitely a crazy feeling. I didn't expect to get the bronze medal during the awards ceremony... It was a crazy feeling that our project went that far and got that accomplishment.” 

The bronze medalists with their proud science teacher, Wade Caswell. (Photo by Alex Kozroski)The bronze medalists with their proud science teacher, Wade Caswell. (Photo by Alex Kozroski)

Their science teacher, who holds a Master of Science in biology, has had other students in the past who received medals at the national level before. Wade Caswell is the science teacher at Hazlet School who joined the students in Ottawa.  

"I've experienced this a few times, it's always very exciting and it's always a feeling of pride,” stated Caswell. “I think it's important that the in the science curriculum, they get the opportunity to go out there and actually be young scientists, to ask a question and try and find that answer in a scientific way. I think it's critically important and I think it will foster in some kids a deeper understanding of what science is.”  

The high school students have big plans for the future, with Tessa Todd looking into the field of agriculture, and Braden Baumann showing enthusiasm for computer science and beyond.