After winning local and regional science competitions, 11-year-old 4-H member Devon Speckman is making a strong impression with his favorite building blocks being used as insulating material.
He and his Legos are off to Raleigh in hopes of winning the state science fair competition on Saturday.
“I really like Legos, so the idea just sort of popped into my head to do a project with them,” Speckman said.
Speckman is competing with his “Lego Ice-ulation” project, which compares the insulating properties of Legos to those of other more traditional insulating materials, such as polypropylene and straw.
After lining various cardboard boxes with each of the five types of insulation he chose, Speckman put an ice cube inside each box and stored the containers in a freezer overnight. The next day, Speckman and his family were surprised to find that his Lego-lined box kept the ice from melting better than the other choices.
“My husband and I both helped him with the scientific method behind the experiment, but he was able to do all of the work,” mother Stacy Speckman said.
Although his idea has gotten him this far, he isnâ€™t out of the woods just yet. Speckman is getting back to basics and continuing to re-study and brush up on his project, perfecting any kinks before he presents it at the competition next week.
He wonâ€™t be reenacting the insulation process in front of the judges, but he will be bringing along a few props to aid in explaining his idea.
This isnâ€™t the first Speckman to make strides with a science project. His older sister, Jessica, competed in the state competition last year and was the only representative from Lincoln County.
As a mother of two science-fair enthusiasts, Stacy Speckman attributes the childrensâ€™ talents to their father â€“ “the scientific one” â€“ while she is the brains behind the operation and focuses her attention on the details, she says.
Competing in these competitions is a boost of confidence for her son, showing him that his actions and research do matter and are paying off, Stacy Speckman said.
When he isnâ€™t crafting science experiments at home, Devon Speckman also participates in community service and other activities that could lead to scholarships and awards through the 4-H youth development programs in Catawba and Lincoln counties.
Extension Agent for Lincoln Countyâ€™s 4-H program April Dillon notices that youth who participate in the program demonstrate an increase in communication skills and confidence levels, tools they will carry with them the rest of their lives, she said.
Dillon witnessed the interaction and conversations between the children and the judges and said she was happy with what she heard. Those in the program are learning science skills first, but are taking away other fundamentals as well.
“We interviewed a few of the science fair participants afterward and they all said they felt more confident speaking in front of others now,” Dillon said. “Thatâ€™s what the organization is all about, building life skills that these children will use, while still doing activities they enjoy.”