Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Not a ‘science fair’

7th annual science conference another success
Luke Snavely
Presenting in the library on May 5, sophomore Elias Boyd presents his long-term, which explores the effect of putting cork in baseball bats.

In the seven years Dr. Brain Wargo has been putting together the science conference, he has made one thing clear: this is not a science fair. Science fairs often explore the already known, replicating experiments and finding predictable results. A science conference dives into answering questions that cannot be simply searched on Google. This year’s science conference was yet another success in bringing both current students and alumni together to teach others about the world around them.

On May 5, students gave their presentations to students, staff and various alumni in three places: the high school auditorium, Ms. Christina Waters’ room and the high school library. Students in the audience could pick where to go, depending on their teachers for each block.

These student presentations all contained long-terms. A long-term refers to an experiment, which can translate to multiple tests, conducted over a lengthy period of time. For those who did not procrastinate on their studies, presentations reflected dedication over several months.

“My long-term was actually pretty easy when I started putting effort into it. I know some people are questioning whether or not to enroll in Physics because of the long-term, but it really wasn’t bad, in hindsight,” sophomore Vera Armenio said.

With all students in Wargo’s physics and physical science classes being required to do a long-term, topics were certainly diverse. For example, sophomore Payton Bickerstaff conducted an experiment to find the effects that chalk would have on rotation in gymnastics; meanwhile, junior Wyatt Boyer set out to find why some pennies turn green, as a means of explaining copper corrosion.

Not only do these long-terms lead students to indulge in authentic scientific practice and reasoning, but they also promote one key characteristic: perseverance. Students failed in their experiments, quite a lot. For example, junior Chase Grable conducted his long-term on tendons and faced many challenges, but he preserved and presented his work at the conference.

“I actually failed a lot more than I thought I would, considering I didn’t know a lot about tendons since they’re in my body,” Grable said. “[My long-term] taught me to just keep going with my experiments.”

These students addressed failure, even noting struggles in their presentations. Through several revisions and meetings with Dr. Wargo, they strived to make their experiments phenomenal. Students also peer edit other students’ presentations and give constructive criticism to help their fellow students succeed. Those that waited or did not even attempt a long-term learned their lesson the hard way, with their grades falling.

This year’s science conference also featured an array of alumni, some of who have already graduated college. For example, Ava Colorito, class of 2018, presented her experience as a surgical pathology technician at UPMC. Even last year’s Physics Club president and 2022 graduate, Carter Huggins, came back for the conference. With all these alumni, there’s a variety of reasons why they come to their alma mater.

“I honestly [come back to the conference] just to see what high school students are working on and talk to them about what I do…” class of 2020 alumni Cade Skuse said. “And just seeing the progress of our science programs here at Freedom and how far they’ve come.”

During second block, Jeff, Elizabeth and Melissa Bishop delivered the keynote address, all of whom graduated from Freedom and have found success in the workforce. Jeff Bishop is even the CEO of his own company, Key Capture Energy, which works with battery storage. The three of them shared important life lessons they learned throughout their education and work experience.

During PLT, students had the opportunity to talk to alumni in a one-on-one environment for a more supplemental experience. The ring of the bell at 2:30 p.m. thus ended yet another successful science conference. For those who would like to enrich themselves deeper in all the topics presented at this year’s conference and on the importance of scientific conferences in general, please see Dr. Wargo’s site,