DMS Science Fair winners named

Front row: Tanner Rhea, Lindsey Huber, Rachel Towery, Trent Wahl, Gabe Kirkley, Sam Telling, Claire Helle. Back row: Mr. Zitzer, Helena Schoonen, Annie Larson, Bradley Rakich, Blake Goody, Weston Taylor, Heidi Martin, Mr. Schoonen. Absent, Ray Shipman. M.P. Regan photo


The 2014 Dillon Middle School Science Fair winners both looked to the past and found unexpected paths to take their fields of study forward.

DMS Seventh grade Grand Champion Annie Larson and Eighth Grade Grand Champion Gabe Kirkley revived experiments performed last decade by their older siblings for the competition, with each gaining results showing a lot has changed over the years.

“The scientific process is a never-ending learning process,” said DMS seventh grade science teacher Andrew Zitzer, who organized the 2014 DMS Science Fair, along with eighth-grade science teacher Jack Schoonen.

“You collect data and come up with an answer. But things evolve as time goes on, so you collect more data later and sometimes come up with a whole new answer.”

Larson’s winning project, “Crime Scene: The Case of the Missing Money,” recreated a social science experiment previously undertaken by her sister Claire, now a business major at Brigham Young University.

“I thought the results would be pretty similar based on all the research I did on similar experiments, but my results turned out to be pretty much the opposite,” said Annie Larson, 13, who showed groups of fellow DMS students a video of her 11-year-old brother, Slava, pretending to steal $100 from her room, while other groups read a story about the incident or had it read aloud to them.

“Previous research concluded that watching the video was the best way for students to gain information, but my results said reading and listening were the top two,” revealed Annie, who theorized that contemporary young people may have become so used to multi-tasking while watching videos that they have come to retain less information from the activity.

An avid dancer who performed with a team of students from Dillon’s Shine Studio at the On Stage Dance Classics competition in Idaho Falls last weekend, Annie will be heading north to present her experiment at the Montana State Science Fair March 17–18 in Missoula.

Eighth grade DMS Grand Champion Gabe Kirkley will also be making the trip to Missoula to present his winning project, “Does the Diet of the Great Horned Owl Change Over Time?”

Kirkley revisited an experiment completed by his brother, Lane McGrath, last decade that surveyed horned owl pellets found near Beaverhead Rock.


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