West Mercer student-scientist wins at state science and engineering fair

Ellie Nomicos won first place in the fourth-grade animal sciences category at the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair, March 29-30, in Bremerton. - Contributed Photo
Ellie Nomicos won first place in the fourth-grade animal sciences category at the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair, March 29-30, in Bremerton.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Islander Ellie Nomicos won three awards at the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair held March 29-30 at Bremerton High School. This year the event had 500 entrants. This is the second year that Nomicos has won at the science fair.

She took first place in the animal sciences category (for fourth graders), which she also won last year. She also won a first place out of all fourth-grade projects regardless of category. Finally, she received a special award for the most inspirational project among all elementary students.

Her father, Gene Nomicos, said that Ellie enjoyed the experience so much that she asked to go to the WSSEF again this year. But it was tight.

“We actually almost didn’t make it because the judging was on a Friday night and Ellie had a swim meet early Saturday morning,” he said. “But Ellie really, really wanted to go to the fair, so we went.”

The title of her project is: ‘Does a Dog Favor One of Its Paws More Than The Other.’

Here is her summary:

“The purpose of this project was to see whether dogs favor one of their paws more than the other. My hypothesis is that if dogs are behaving naturally, then they will favor their right paw. To test my hypothesis, I went to the dog park and watched ten (10) dogs at least three (3) times each. I observed which paw the dog used for its first step. For each observation, each dog had to come to a complete stop with its paws square, and had to be in the sandy area of the park. My results supported my hypothesis: 8 out of 10 dogs favored their right paw and only 2 favored their left.

Nomicos is a fourth-grader in David Baxter’s classroom at West Mercer Elementary School. Baxter said that Nomicos’ “Variables I Kept Constant and Procedure,” section showed a strong grasp of the scientific method.

Nomicos presented her poster to judges five different times at the fair. The public (including parents) is not allowed in the hall during the judging sessions so that the students can present their posters on their own and get judged fairly for their work.

The Washington State Science and Engineering Fair (WSSEF) offers an opportunity to participate in a premier educational fair. WSSEF is open to all public, private, online and home-schooled students in grades one through 12, statewide. Find out more at


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