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Area students compete for science
Lauren Buie now knows more about palm trees than she ever expected.

The iconic coastal trees were the subject the 10-year-old chose to research as part of a fifth-grade class project to produce an informational book about Georgia's barrier islands for entry in the 4-H Cloverleaf Spirit Awards contest.

The contest pits fifth-grade classes throughout the county against one another to see which book best meets the standards for science and writing laid out in the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, the new state curriculum guiding all classroom instruction this year.

For Lauren, the project has been eye opening.

She has learned about the different species of palm trees, the fruits they produce and where they grow.

"I like doing this because it's about our barrier islands," Lauren said. "It's about where we live."

Her friend and classmate, 10-year-old Carsyn Owens, enjoyed the project for the same reasons. She chose to study sea turtles.

"My aunt used to work at a sea turtle center, and I wanted to learn more about them," Carsyn said.

The self-directed approach to learning that incorporates both writing and science is something stressed in the new curriculum and is accepted well by the students, said teacher Holly Wells.

"They have really taken off with it. And they will be proud of it when they finish," Wells said.

That is the hope of Kristee Glace, program assistant for the 4-H Cloverleaf Spirit Award program.

"This gives them another opportunity to work on writing while also learning about the environment around them," Glace said.

She introduced the project by bringing environmental artifacts like turtle skulls and other items found in nature to show the children and pique their interest about the natural world of the Golden Isles.

"We want to see all of that spill over," Glace said.

Fifth-grade classes from Satilla Marsh Elementary, Burroughs-Molette Elementary, Golden Isles Elementary and Altama Elementary are participating in the competition.

The winning classroom will get a pizza party, and the teacher will receive an extra $200 for classroom supplies.

The books are due by Dec. 3. The winner will be announced Dec. 12.

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