The challenge a Girl Scout takes on as her Gold Project is supposed to benefit her community. For her project, Jackie Rapport chose something that draws on her passion for science and helps the Jewish community as well as members of the broader Mercer County population.
Jackie, a 10th-grader at the Health Science Academy in Hamilton, organized a science fair at the school, open to all county students in grades five through eight. When she realized that the event’s advisory board had scheduled the fair for a Saturday, April 28, Jackie — whose family belongs to Temple Har Sinai Temple in Pennington — was upset that observant Jewish students wouldn’t be able to participate.
She promptly went into action and persuaded the fair advisers to make another day available, when students could show their projects and judges would be on hand to assess them. Applicants just needed to make that preference known when they applied.
She said, “I’m very happy that students who prefer not to attend on Shabbat will now be able to compete, get acknowledged, and win prizes.”
An award ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 1, at the Kelsey Theatre on the West Windsor campus of Mercer County Community College. In addition to a main award, other awards will be presented in a wide range of categories, from environment to sports, robotics, creative arts, and food science.
Jackie, the daughter of Robin and Greg Rapport of Lawrenceville, has been interested in science since she was little, and plans to be a doctor in the army “and/or with Doctors Without Borders,” she said. She told NJ Jewish News she wants to do something to support President Barack Obama’s efforts to get more students interested in careers in math and science.
“My project is to create a competitive, fun, county-wide science fair that will increase interest and help boost students’ confidence in science,” she said. “Plus, it will give students an appreciation of and exposure to using the scientific method.”
Jackie has been a Girl Scout since second grade and has no plans to stop. Scouting, she said, “has not only given me the opportunity to make some amazing friends and meet new people, it has shown me how to be a better person in life. Luckily, this is not my last involvement in scouting. I can be, and plan on being, involved until I graduate high school. Beyond that, I can participate as an adult leader.”
Jackie’s Girl Scout leader in Troop 71452, Cathi Macheda, said Jackie has handled every aspect of planning the fair. “She continues to impress everyone she comes in contact with,” Macheda said, “with her dedication, organization, and — above all — leadership skills, as the big day approaches.”
She added, “I’m very proud to be a part of not only Jackie’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, but also a part of Jackie’s life. She is a wonderful young lady who I know will continue to be a positive asset to anything she sets her mind to.”
For more information or to sign up to exhibit at the fair, go to www.sciencefair4all.webs.com.