When Morgan High School freshman Kate Netherton began her project for the class science fair in Stacy Floyd’s Earth Science class, she had no idea it would take her to an International Science Fair and lead to an interview with a national magazine.
Netherton, daughter of Laura and Steve Wilson, has liked math since she was very young. “I’ve always been good in math, but I think I was stronger in elementary because my grandma gave me a great head start by working with me before I even started school,” Netherton shared. “In middle school, I loved Mrs. Merrell’s class, but didn’t do a lot with math. When it was time for me to do a science fair project this year, I chose one that involved math.”
Netherton’s initial project examined the Birthday Paradox that states: if 23 people are randomly selected, there is a 50 percent chance that two people have the same birthday. After surveying random groups of 23 people and examining their birthdays, Netherton proved the Birthday Paradox to be true and won first place in the Morgan High Science Fair.
Winning the high school fair qualified Netherton to compete at the Ritchey Science and Engineering Fair at Weber State University. She did very well and was invited to take her project to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz.
The organizers of the Ritchey Fair worked with Netherton to deepen and expand her project in preparation for the International Fair. She extended her research to discover the probability that a person will be detained at the airport because he or she shares the same name as someone else.
In Phoenix, Netherton was one of only a handful of ninth graders who qualified for the international science fair; most of the other participants were juniors or seniors.
“I flew to Phoenix with Mrs. Floyd and our group from Weber State,” she explained. “It was an amazing experience to meet people from all over the world. I met and talked to participants from Egypt, Australia, Russia and a bunch of people from China. It was really cool to meet them all and learn about them.”
“We were able to attend a lot of workshops and classes. Some of the classes were to teach us how to talk to people about our projects. Others were about protecting patents and how to expand our projects. Another was led by an astronaut,” she recounted.
While at the fair, Netherton’s expanded project “The Birthday Paradox: An Application to the US No–Fly List” garnered attention from a national science magazine. “One day I came back to my board and there was a note to call a reporter for Science News for Kids, a national magazine,” Netherton recalled. “I called her back and I met with her with Mrs. Floyd for the interview.” Netherton’s interview should appear in the next issue of the magazine.
Netherton is already making plans for next year’s science fair. “My group at Weber State will help me develop the next project. They hold summer workshops to help kids get ready for science fairs,” she explained. She would like to eventually pursue a career in science and explore the possibility of becoming a mathematician.
She credits Mrs. Floyd for creating this opportunity. “I think she is very intelligent and knows a lot, but most importantly she is a hard worker…She has five kids and works very hard and takes on a lot of things. She pushes us in her class and makes us work hard. She is a great example.”
Congratulations to Kate and Mrs. Floyd on taking the Morgan science program to the international arena.