Fair Motivates Child, 12, to Contact a Latin American Missionary
Arnold boy, 12, solved a water purification problem to win Mastodon Art/Science Regional Fair Award. The event helps Jefferson County children explore possible careers, but few donations may affect the fair's reach this year.
Twelve-year-old Dennis Kohl Jr. created a homemade water purifier and won the Earth Science award at the Mastodon Art/Science Regional Fair.
The idea came to Kohl after he contacted a Guatemalan missionary, Nancy Henson, a few years ago. Kohl won the Earth Science Award last year as well.
Kohl found Henson online while researching ideas. He contacted her to learn some of her greatest challenges. She told Kohl clean water was her greatest challenge, and he made it his, too.
After completing the project, he sent the treated water to the Jefferson County Health Department. The department's results indicated that his purifier worked.
"I like doing the fair because it gives me a chance to do hands-on projects and displays them so people can learn about certain things, " Kohl said.
He has participated in the fair for two years and has also won Sponsor Awards and Executive Director Awards.
"It's a mind-broadening experience for the research. He learns a lot from doing the research on his projects," said Kohl's dad, Dennis Kohl Sr. His mind goes a thousand miles a minute, and the the fair harnesses it, he said.
Since 1979, the Mastodon Art/Science Regional Fair has given students a chance to display their work in art and science as well as compete with other children in Jefferson County.
Fair Director Jill Malcom is worried the event will suffer from a lack of funds this year.
"We have to raise 100 percent of our funds from donations. In this economy, it's been a very big struggle," Malcolm said.
Unlike most fairs, Mastadon is a nonprofit organization. It is the largest fair in the United States for dual disciplines and gives away approximately $35,000 in scholarships, trips and prizes, she said.
"We celebrate the artist in the scientist and the scientist in the artist," Malcolm said. "We help students have an opportunity to explore and shine and give them incentives to experiment with art and science."
Jake Herenstein, a computer systems engineer with a master's degree from Missouri University of Science and Technology, formerly the University of Missouri-Rolla, got his first look at engineering from the Mastodon Art/Science Regional Fair.
"I don't know where I would be without the fair. It was my earliest experience in engineering, which is what I went on to do after high school," said Herenstein, who is on the fair’s board of directors.
Jane Cable, the art teacher at DeSoto Sr. High School, said the fair motivates her students. She made participation in the fair a mandatory part of art classes.
Students complained at first, but their successes drove them to work harder in class, she said.
Malcom echoed these sentiments, quoting President Obama's State of the Union address, "If you heard the State of the Union he said, 'It's not only the winner's of the Super Bowl we need to celebrate but the winners of the science fair,' and that is so true," Malcom said.
The fair will be held March 15-19 at Jefferson County College in the Field House. For more information visit www.marsf.net.