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Jordan Ridge students create name for themselves

Jun 05, 2017 11:25AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Jordan Ridge sixth-grade students have excelled in several academic activities, creating a name for themselves and for their school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

If you look at an extracurricular activity here and there, Jordan Ridge Elementary students have done well, but when you take a group of them, Principal Cathie Anderson said, they’re creating names for themselves and for the school.

“When we look at storytelling, geography bee, spelling bee, science fair, debate and math tournaments, there is a group of kids who are excelling,” Anderson said. 

The group she is referring to includes sixth-graders Kyle Anderson, Michael Pond, Andrew Shackelford, Nethra Suresh and Natalie Swain.

Andrew has been one of his school’s storytellers chosen for Jordan School District’s Story Weavers storytelling showcase the past two years. Last year, he was invited to tell stories at the Utah Storytelling Guild’s event, Story Crosswords. 

“I’ve already picked out stories I plan to share this year,” he said. Recently Andrew spent his time teaming up with Nethra to earn first place the state debate tournament.

The duo argued for the negative team with the topic, “Resolved: In the United States the benefits of compulsory national service outweigh the harms.”

“We argued that it would take away time from a person’s free will to get an education, and it would affect the economy,” Andrew said.

At the same time, Andrew was working on his science fair project that would take first place at the Central Utah STEM fair at Brigham Young University.

In his project, Andrew explored peripheral vision with his project entitled, “As far as the eye can see.” He received an invitation to apply to the national Broadcom Masters competition.

He wasn’t alone. Natalie’s project, “Moving to the Music,” Michael’s project, “Slip Slidin’ Away: Optimizing the Coefficient of Static Friction between Shoes” and Kyle’s project, “Sugar: Why It's Not So Sweet” also earned them invitations. These three also were named fair grand champions of their categories.

Natalie’s project in the life sciences division pondered the question if music played in between class periods can result in tardiness.

“My sister would say that students seemed to walk to the beat of the music in the halls,” she said after comparing data she collected at South Jordan Middle School. “My hypothesis was proven correct: When the school plays slow music, students walked slower, resulting in more tardies.”

Natalie also participated at the state debate tournament on the affirmative side, bringing home a speaker medal.

Her classmate, Michael, who received a top speaker award at the district debate tournament, tested which material would work best to adhere to street shoes to prevent slipping on ice through his science fair project. He looked at several common materials from shag carpet to artificial turf to different grains of sand paper before discovering 1,000-grain sand paper worked the best.

“I looked at each material under a microscope before I concluded which materials interacted with each other to cause the best grip,” he said.

Michael also recently won first place from 325 students competing at the Daybreak Elementary’s seventh annual math tournament. The 4.5-hour math tournament involves solving about 25 challenging math problems on a variety of math topics.

“I won it in fourth grade, got edged out last year and had to win in a second tie-breaker this year, even though I aced the test,” he said.

Classmate Nethra had to win her six-way tie-breaker to finish third in the tournament that had 26 public and private schools participate.

“I used a shortcut method that was more like algebra, so I’d be the fastest person who got the correct answer,” said Nethra, who also is planning on participating in Story Weavers, as is Michael, this spring.

Before the math tournament, she had won the school spelling bee and earned a bid to compete in the Scripts-sponsored state bee. At state, Nethra advanced several rounds over six hours before tying for fifth place out of 157 competitors. She lost on the word “subcutaneous,” placing a ‘q’ in place of the ‘c.’

“I had learned all 1,150 words, and it was interesting to learn some words that I’ll probably never use, but to look at the words’ origins and spellings,” she said. “With some, I’ll use in my daily life to better explain things because when you can communicate better, your life is better.”

Kyle excelled at the geography bee, first winning his school bee to be extended the opportunity to take an online written test for a chance to compete in the state tournament, which is sponsored by the National Geographic Society. After doing well on the written test, Kyle competed at the state preliminary round, getting a perfect score.

“I studied casually on my own online, taking daily quizzes and using atlases and geography resources and maps to learn more,” he said.

Kyle eventually lost on questions that asked about a unique marine species found in the outer banks of North Carolina and about which countries border Hungary.

“I like to travel, so this is a way I can see pictures of other cultures and learn more about countries,” he said. “It’s a way I can challenge myself and have fun.”

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