Walton Middle School seventh-grader Aaron Wilmoth represented his school and district at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair with his project, “Squishy Robots.” The project previously earned him a first place in the junior engineering category of the East Panhandle Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

At the state level, “Squishy Robots” placed second in its category and earned a special certificate from ASM Materials Education Foundation.

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With Earth Day a week from today, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has scientists and educators ready to share insights into today’s important environmental issues. Here are ideas for educators and students.

Oyster reefs and estuaries: Estuaries are the nurseries of the sea, and oyster reefs help keep them healthy. Over the last 30 years, reefs have seen a sharp decline. UF/IFAS researchers are working to fix that.

The Everglades: UF/IFAS scientists monitor how changes in the Everglades affect the species who live and migrate there, including wading birds, crocodiles and invasive species.

Coastlines: Coastal areas are vulnerable to erosion and other issues. UF/IFAS scientists seek ways to protect these areas by creating living shorelines that keep ecosystems in place.

Artificial reefs: Fish and other sea life depend on coral reefs for habitat. UF/IFAS scientists create artificial reefs that mimic the function of natural reefs and give marine animals places to live.

Plastic pollution: Most of the plastic that’s been created is likely still around today. The UF/IFAS Microplastic Awareness Project educates people about how they can reduce the amount of plastic that gets into the environment.

Also learn about water quality and water resource management, prescribed burns of forests, citizen science, and both threatened and invasive species.

For information, visit the extension offices website at www.sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/online-learning-opportunities, or contact Samantha Grenrock by email at grenrosa@ufl.edu.

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Published Walton County author McCaid Paul recently visited fifth-graders at West DeFuniak Elementary School, sharing insight into the writing process and the importance of writing.


School Scoops appears Mondays and Saturdays during the school year. Email school items for publication to sklscoops@cox.net.