With a chance to present their hard work and possibly win some cash, 45 sharply dressed students stood by their projects awaiting judgment.
The third annual Scholar Celebration had the 1787 Room swarming with students and faculty last Thursday.
“Students often get the chance to present their work within their programs, but this showcase gives them a chance to present their research to a large audience,” explained Dean Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, who began this tradition the year she came to Castleton in 2013.
Johnston-Robledo recognized the need for students to take part in faculty-student research projects where they would eventually present their original work at a showcase like the one held on Thursday.
The students presenting represented 16 different departments. There were students from the Theater department, Health Science, Geology, Psychology, Business Administration, and more. Research topics and presentations varied from sculptures of beavers to stage makeup to campus energy consumption all the way to mate attraction by female rattlesnakes.
Faculty members from various departments were assigned multiple presentations to judge. There were two judges per presentation. The three most outstanding projects were awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award and a $100 prize at the end of the showcase.
“We’re evaluating the students on their actual project, their presentation, their clarity and how polished it is,” explained judge and business professor Cathy Kozlik. “I also look at the significance of their work and what it means to them.”
History professor and fellow judge Adam Chill says he thinks judging these projects can be a little tricky because they are all so impressive.
“I looked at how professionally students present their work and themselves,” he said.
Athletic training student Colleen Jenkins was presenting her research on the relationships between student athletes and athletic trainers.
“Although this was a huge time commitment, it was pretty easy because I was researching something that I was interested in,” said Jenkins
Geology major Tim Marshall agreed with Jenkins about the amount of work put into these projects.
“I started researching my topic in the summer of 2013,” said Marshall. “So it’s been a long time and a lot of work, but it’s cool stuff.”
As the spectators and judges wandered from presentation to presentation, students were proudly showing off their hours of work, talking loudly to be heard over the chatter of other students.
“I love how enthusiastic the students are,” said Kozlik. “They can really articulate what they’ve been doing and why it’s important to them.”
Geology student Kimberlee French has been conducting her research in the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
“It has been super interesting,” she said excitedly. “I can’t wait to keep working on this after graduation.”
As the judges handed in their critiques, Sarah Bergstrom had a sigh of relief; her hard work had finally come to an end.
“After all this time, research, hard work and the 30-page paper I wrote about it, I’m almost sick of my subject,” said Bergstrom. “But I still think it’s a cool topic and I had a lot of fun researching this stuff.”
Johnston-Robledo has plans to continue this tradition with hopes of expanding it.
“I hope to move it to the gym next year,” she said. “I think it would be really cool to have classes cancelled so all students could come check out their classmates’ and friends’ work.”
The winners of the Dean’s Scholar Award were as follows: Rachel Orr and Caleb Watkins: Detection of genetically modified organisms in Vermont corn fields (Natural Sciences); Kenneth Stone: Campus energy consumption (Business Administration) and Matthieu Fortier and Jack Del Priore: Gamification and game-based learning in the literature classroom (English).
“I’m really proud of these students,” said Johnston-Robledo. “It’s so nice to be able to recognize good work.”