From exploring the composition of the earth to understanding the processes used to design, build, and maintain structures and systems, our Science Department covers a multitude of topics.
Meet Our Team
Our Science Department faculty share their passion for science, knowledge, and creativity to excite their students about the wonders of science. We encourage our students to stay in contact with their teachers. The best way to succeed in science is by asking questions, so please come to us with any questions or concerns you have regarding your courses.
About Paul McElligott
I am an instructor, professor, and technology coach to high school and college students. I have won numerous state and national awards and recognition such as state Science Teacher of the Year, “Hall of Fame” and Governor’s Award on Innovation. I have expertise in technology as a former research director, teacher negotiations as an education association president, running small businesses as a CEO, and I have won over $75,000 in cumulative grants in the last five years. I run clubs that include: robotics, chess club, research, automotive clubs, and Academic Decathlon. I have mentored students in the National Automotive X-Prize, five “World Robotics” competitions and national science and engineering technology fairs such as the Intel Competition and AAPT International Competition. I am passionate that students experience hands-on STEM projects to create their future.
- AP Chemistry
- AP Physics
- Honors Chemistry
- Honors Physics
About Amanda Neaton
My name is Amanda Neaton. I have three years of teaching experience at the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School in Southfield Michigan before coming to Fountain Hills High School in 2014. I enjoy teaching the life sciences and have recently started a garden club at the school. Though it is important to me that students master certain concepts in the Biology, Honors Anatomy and Physiology, and Honors Biology classes, it is more important that they develop an interest during the year and ask questions. In addition to inquiry in the lab, each of these classes has eight big projects for the year around which the content is themed. I encourage students who develop an interest to take the AP Biology class. The advanced course focuses on the interpretation of scientific discovery and connections across domains.
- Honors Biology
- AP Biology
- Honors Anatomy and Physiology
About Kristina Robinson
I am a native of Iowa and taught four years of chemistry and physics in a small, rural school prior to moving to Arizona. Following college and before beginning my teaching career, I served as the education director and ran a tutoring program and high school suspension program at a small non-profit organization in Des Moines, Iowa.
In Arizona, I am certified in chemistry, physics, biology, and general science. While living in Fountain Hills, I taught chemistry to 7th through 9th graders at BASIS Peoria for one year before accepting a position at FHHS. It has always been important to me to work and invest in the community in which I live. I enjoy getting to know your students and am passionate about challenging and supporting them in the best ways that I can.
This year students hatched chickens in the Fountain Hills Science Department! Jacob Benge, Esther Herdt, Hamza Hamed, and Orlando Garcia gathered eggs. Hamza provided three duck eggs and after candling (shining a light into the egg in a dark room in order to see the interior of the egg) it was determined that one is moving and growing, due to hatch in one week.
Unfortunately, many of the donated eggs had been sat on and abandoned by a mother hen prior to artificial incubation, resulting in multiple cohorts of chicks. Our first chick, named Denahi, hatched on March 30 from Jacob’s batch. Esther’s hatched about three days later (Bubba and Squirt). Orlando’s began hatching yesterday, and so far three healthy chicks have been transferred to the brooder, though more may hatch today and into the weekend.
Students enjoy handling the chicks, feeding them, naming them, and learning about the process of animal development and hatching. Each week classes received a brief lesson on development inside the egg along with candling and now observe their behavior in glass aquariums around the room. Students have had many questions about the birds, some of which we have figured out together. Currently, the three older birds have been banished back to their old aquarium following some bullying episodes with the younger chicks.
Surprisingly, there are more homes available for the birds than we need. Currently the wait list for birds ends in several families whom desire ‘any leftover chickens’ for their farms. This was not the case last year when we hatched quail.
Future plans include research projects involving animal behavior, genetics, and development facilitated by chickens.
SRP Learning Grant
SRP announced today that they awarded a major grant toward the robotics program at Fountain Hills High School. The grant entails supporting parts and materials to expand the robotics program. The award amount is $5,000.00. "I would like to thank SRP for their decision to support this vital program to support STEM programs at FHHS." said Dr. Paul McElligott.
Arizona Science and Engineering Fair
Samuel Aker, Robert Cole, Bruce Ferguson, and Simon Edwards were award winners at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair. The awards ceremony was at the South Civic Center in Phoenix.
Their entry in physics was called the Dip Theory, an attempt to test and prove the idea that a rolling object that meets a rounded out dip will actually not lose any speed and will actually tie the same object on a flat plane.
The team won the Mu Alpha Theta Award. This award is for the most challenging, original, thorough, and creative investigative problem involving mathematics accessible to a high school student. The students examined a physics problem and used mathematics to prove the theory.
The science department is very proud of their accomplishment. They are the AP students of Dr. Paul. McElligott.
The Fountain Hills High School car club recently met on a Saturday to work on the front end of the 100 mpg car. This free club is open to all students who enjoy working on cars or would like to know more about cars.
Spring Biology Project
Biology classes are hatching baby chicks as part of their spring project.
Engineering Students Explore Drones
Engineering students are exploring how drones work and if 3D will print the bodies to make new designs.
FHHS Science Fair
Over 450 students from the high school participated in the 2017 FHHS Science Fair on March 3, 2017. They presented over 160 tri-folds and papers over two days to their instructors. They announced the winners at the open house on Friday night. In all, they gave out five first place awards. The top three research papers each received trophies. We offer special congratulations to the following students:
- Laura Anderson and Kaitlyn Laessig: Music as Medicine (Behavioral) - First Place and First Place Overall
- Samuel Aker, Simon Edwards, Bruce Ferguson, and Robert Cole: The Dip Theory (Physics) - First Place and Second Place Overall
- Riley Gant: Where's the Beef (Bio-Chemistry) - First Place and Third Place Overall
- Charlotte Tornee and Kailey McMahon: How Different Drinks Affect Recovery (Bio-Med) - First Place and Fourth Place Overall
- Parker Smout, Jaryn Rodriguez, and Jenna Rodriguez: Chickens: Store Feed vs Table Scraps (Animal) - First Place and Fifth Place Overall
The first place winners will all be competing at the state competition on Wednesday, April 12 at the Phoenix Civic Center. Mrs. Neaton, Mrs. Robinson, and Dr. McElligott are very proud of all the student presentations. The research club of Fountain Hills High School, led by Dr. Paul McElligott, sponsored the science fair.
Car Club Starts for the Spring
The Research Club supports the Car Club at Fountain Hills High School. The Car Club started this weekend with a part preparation. On March 4, Rosalee de Ment and Dawson Dumitrescu of FHHS helped Dr. McElligott work on the Hydrogen car, under repair, and the 100-MPG car. Our lead mechanic and Engineer is Adam Sizemore. The students assisted in the sand blasting of car parts in a glove box. They also did a partial assembly of the 100-MPG car body, and examined the hydrogen car being prepared for the engine replacement. The students learned a lot and look forward to the next time.
The club is open for more students to join. It is a free club open to FHHS students.
Central Arizona VEX VRC Tournament
On Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18, 2017, Fountain Hills High School hosted the 9th Central Arizona Vex VRC tournament. Thirty-six teams participated from all over the state. On Friday, we held Skills, which is an individual attempt to maximize points. We then held the main tournament on Saturday. One referee, Mayor Linda Kavanagh, again participated as one of our referees.
The main winners were:
- Design award - Team 127A the Lemon Bots
- Excellence award – Team 2114X from Cave Creek
- Judges award - Team 6225 the Diva Droids from Phoenix (The Diva Droids are an all girl team.)
- Tournament champions - Team 8598 from Maricopa Home School
- Tournament champions - Team 2114Z from Cave Creek
- Tournament champions - Team 127C from Cave Creek
The Fountain Hills teams 1471C and 1471D (led by Dr. Paul McElligott) came in 8th and 9th place over all. We are very pleased with our Fountain Hills team consisting of school club members and the Fountain Hills High School engineering class. Around 400 people attended this exciting event.
Central AZ VEX Tournament
On Saturday, February 11, 2017, Fountain Hills High School hosted thirty-six teams from all over the state to participate in the Central AZ VEX Tournament. The teams were competing for nine awards. Four of the awards get the teams to the Arizona state competition. These four awards are the two teamwork champs and the two excellence awards.
Numerous volunteers from the elementary, and high school helped in the set up take down and management of the tournament. The main coordinator from Fountain Hills Elementary was Jill Cooper, who is one of the leads for the elementary robotics program. The technical set up and coordination was Dr. Paul McElligott. The main sponsor for this event is the high school robotics program at FHHS as well as the research club at FHHS, both of which are led by Dr. Paul McElligott.
Several notable judges were judging the awards. They included Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sweeney; Linda Lucero, neuroscientist at Barrow Neurological Institute; Principal Valerie Dehombreux from McDowell Mountain Elementary; Talia Houseal, classroom teacher from McDowell Mountain Elementary; Pat Dwyer, retired STEM teacher; Cameron Ribail, ASU engineering student and former Falcon robotics team member; Dr. Wendy Barnard, Fountain Hills school board member; and Roger Owers, commercial real estate broker.
There were also several volunteer referees including Peter Conti, Eric Cooper, Zachary Tolis, and Jenny Guerrette.
After seventy qualifier rounds and fifteen final rounds 514B - The Banana Bots from Gilbert and 10978 - Desert Titans from Chandler were the teamwork champions.
Congratulations to all the winners!
- STEM award: 10978 - The Desert Titans from Chandler
- Judges award: 7681D - The Mohave Team from Scottsdale
- Middle school excellence: 10563B - Team Radioactive from Chandler
- Elementary excellence: 10978 - Desert Titans from Chandler
- Sportsman award: 10178 - Robot Overlords from Chandler
- Teamwork champions: 514B - The Banana Bots from Gilbert
- Teamwork champions: 10978 - Desert Titans from Chandler
- Design award: 10563B - Team Radioactive from Chandler
- Skills award: 10978 - Desert Titans from Chandler
- Volunteer of the year award: Peter Conti and Holly Brownstein
This is the second of three robotic competitions that will take place in Fountain Hills. Next week the thirty-six VRC high school teams will be on campus Friday and Saturday.
Students in chemistry class measured Charles' law with micro-computers to detect temperature and pressure. Dr. Paul's students, pictured below, are examining gas laws.
FHHS decathletes competed on Friday and Saturday, February 3 and 4, 2017, at Cooley Middle school in Gilbert. Our competitors were Sarah Domin, Paige Despain, Laura Anderson, Kyle Clark, Kolton Coultrap, Brendan Tjeerdsma, and Casey Shellabarger. The coaches were Kristina Robinson and Paul McElligott.
They all worked very hard this year and earned a cumulative 24,000 points. This is remarkable considering we were missing two competitors. The topic this year was World War II, and the questions were challenging. At this time, we are waiting for the final scores and regional results, which may take a week.
Congratulations to our students and coaches for their outstanding achievements!
Fountain Hills Vex IQ - Tournament
After nearly 40 qualifying rounds The Desert Titans led with over 40 points per play. They were from Chandler's Trinity home school.
When the finals were complete The Titan Robotics and Stealth Robotics (from Queen Creek) were the top winners.
Over 250 students and adults attended the events.
This event was sponsored by the Fountain Hills Robotics Club of Fountain Hills High School, led by Dr. Paul McElligott.
SCC Math and Science Field Day 2017
Thirteen students competed in the 11th Annual SCC Science and Math Field Day. Students are entertained by SCC departments as to what type of courses they provide as they arrive. They are then organized and sent to exam rooms or project rooms.
During the competition students take exams in math or science, and one select team performs a STEM competition. This year the project competition was to construct a propelled mouse trap car.
Those competing in math were Sergio Andre, Grant Tjeerdsma, Hannah Barsema, Brendan Tjeerdsma, Laura Anderson, and Dawson Brande. The science exam competitors were Tyler Ipema, Emerson O’Neil, Bruce Ferguson, and Stone Xia. The project team members were Alex Jameson and Sam Batchelor. The teachers attending this year were Cristine Barsema and Dr. Paul McElligott.
There were seventeen teams competing this year including Desert Mountain, Xavier, Mesquite, and Desert Vista. Each project team needed to propel a mouse trap car the farthest on a 25 foot track. Our best position was 8th place in this car run. A number of teams had difficulties making the fifteen foot line this year. Our longest run was 22 feet.
Fountain Hills won one award for team high score. Brendan Tjeerdsma won the Fountain Hills high score award receiving a gift card.
Science Lab Finals
Students in Dr. Paul's classes are doing lab finals. They earn credit for measuring, estimation of density, mechanical advantage, nomenclature, and more.
Star Party Reveals a Twin Star
A star party recently took place at the high school campus on Sunday, November 6, 2016, from 7:00-9:30 p.m. The high school had its newest telescope out, along with Mr. Ted Blank and the Fountain Hills Astronomy Club. The excitement of the evening came at 8:00 p.m. when a star, recognized as a single star, appeared to be two stars one behind the other. While the star passed behind the moon, the attenders took readings on a camera and translated into a light analyzer. Indeed, the star was in fact two stars. The astronomy club will be transferring the data to an analysis center for future publication.
Garden Club Going Strong
Garden Club is growing pumpkins! Despite the relentless Fountain Hills animals, we discovered that plants with a high concentration of thrichomes (little hairs on the leaves for defense) are resistant to many pests. There are three varieties growing, and we are hoping for baby pumpkins soon.
Robotics Club Competes for Skills Points at Buckeye
On Saturday, October 22 Rose DeMent and Gabe Anderson (president and vice president of the robotics club) brought a number of robots to this scrimmage. Several members were away at a band competition that day. Most of the morning was spent debugging the robots that had only been completed the day before. Just prior to lunch the two students had their robots in condition. The students start at last place and within a few trials quickly rose to 10th place out of 20.
We are looking forward to a good season this year.
Local Professor Presents to Engineers at FHHS
Dr. FossenkemperDr. Fossenkemper, a professor of IT technology at PV community college, talked with the Fountain Hills High School engineers about careers and college issues for students entering the marketplace. She was a vivacious lecturer who shared many life lessons.
As part of the engineering course, students hear regular speakers who we bring in to discuss STEM field options. Fountain Hills is dedicated to STEM courses and clubs.
Our AP students are constantly striving to expand their minds. In physics, students are working to prove changes in speed and constant acceleration in class. This year in physics is going to be great!
Dr. McElligott Receives Award
The Governor's Council on Innovation awarded Dr. McElligott of Fountain Hills High School with a plaque and a check for being the Insight Teacher of the Year. The gala event sponsored by several corporations took place on November 12 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Congratulations, Dr. McElligott!