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Freedom Intermediate Students Honored

Freedom Intermediate Students Honored

Bright ideas, solid research and teamwork won four Freedom Intermediate School students a berth as semifinalists in the Christopher Columbus Awards, a nationwide program that challenges middle school students to explore opportunities for positive change in their communities using science and technology.

The pet-loving sixth-graders, Marabeth Kennedy, Samantha Yeager, Katie Baugh and Laura Lauder, developed the project out of their desire to keep dogs from being placed in an animal shelter.  Their theory was that aggressive dogs do not get adequate outdoor exercise, which can result in poor behavior. The team developed an outreach program to educate dog owners about their responsibilities to provide attention and exercise as well as food and shelter for their pets. 

A panel of community leaders, scientists and experts in science education judged this idea as one of the top 30 Christopher Columbus Awards entries in the U.S. More than 1,200 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and coaches participated nationwide. Although their project was not one of the eight national finalists, their science teacher, Barbara Orr, was very proud of the effort the girls put forth.

"This is the first experience for the sixth graders with this type of project,” she said. “They had to brainstorm for a project idea, conduct a background research, design an experiment to collect data, write a solution, and create a commercial to present their idea.” She added that the idea of the project came from the girls’ passion for animals.  “This passion to help animals kept them focused during the challenges of working with a team to finish the project."

Over the years, Orr has had several teams advance to the semifinalist round of this competition and one team went on to the national finals.

In its 11th year, the Christopher Columbus Awards have attracted more than 15,000 students from diverse backgrounds all across the U.S. The program is sponsored by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, with cooperation from the National Science Foundation, and is endorsed by the National Middle School Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. For more information, please call 1-800-291-6020 or visit