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Senior education students share research about Dahlonega Science Festival

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UNG middle grades education students Tony Sacchitello and Macey Jarrard were able to share their research about the Dahlonega Science Festival at multiple conferences.

Macey Jarrard and Tony Sacchitello, seniors pursuing degrees in middle grades education at the University of North Georgia (UNG), have gained a wide audience for their research about the Dahlonega Science Festival. UNG faculty and community members organized the festival for the second time in March 2019.

The students worked on their research with assistance from faculty members Dr. Gina Childers, Dr. Donna Governor and Dr. Lesley Simanton-Coogan. The first year of the research was supported by a Presidential Incentive Award.

Sacchitello shared their work, which focused on why people attended the inaugural Dahlonega Science Festival in 2018, at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) international conference March 31-April 3 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Both Jarrard and Sacchitello presented their research at the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) international meeting in Savannah, Georgia, in January 2019. They presented at Southeastern Association for Science Teacher Education (SASTE) meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, in October 2018.

The pair also presented the research at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference (GURC) in November on UNG's Gainesville Campus and UNG's Annual Research Conference (ARC) on March 22.

A native of Athens, Georgia, Sacchitello said the research provided feedback to festival organizers about participants' desire for greater diversity in the event's speakers.

"I want everyone to be able to see themselves as a scientist," Sacchitello said.

Jarrard, from Gainesville, Georgia, said the research showed that people enjoyed the informal, collaborative nature of the festival. She says the festival's approach mirrors her work as a student teacher.

"I don't want them to be scared in the classroom, because science can be intimidating," Jarrard said. "I want to re-create a big science class that's fun for people."

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