HMS 6th-graders win contest top prize

The sixth-grade class at Hills?boro Middle School received a check May 24 for $1,000 from Atmos Energy for winning the natural gas company?s educational unit design competition.

Presenting the check was James W. Bartling, manager of public affairs for Atmos. Five other area schools participated in the program in its inaugural year: Council Grove, Centre, Herington, Marion and Peabody-Burns.

?The team from our marketing department reviewed the entries, and one of the things I told them is since this is the first time we?ve done this, we established a criteria that we wanted to see creativity,? Bartling said.

The judging team was tempted to split the cash prize, he added, but decided the rules stipulated the selection of a single winner.

?They felt this (HMS entry) had the most creativity in it, and it brought in a lot of the safety tips they had learned during the course. The team felt this one was deserving of the grand prize.?

Len Coryea, sixth-grade science teacher, said the unit took three weeks to complete. Students were challenged to come up with their own project ideas, and used a variety of media?including video, posters and original songs?to communicate general information and safety tips about natural gas.

As for the $1,000, Coryea said he?d like to buy multiple sets of gravity-driven miniature-car racing sets to use for physics experiments in his classes, as well as a new microscope.

In addition to the check for winning the competition, the class received one for $250 March 31 for participating in the program.

Bartling said Atmos plans to offer the program again next year, but will likely invite a different set of schools to participate.

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