Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eudora West Elementary School students experience scientific method

May 17, 2007

The results surprised Eudora West Elementary School third-grader Tucker Gabriel.

After spending hours searching for a question, he and third-grader Griffin Katzenmeier decided to test what type of rock would dissolve easiest in a solution of vinegar and water.

Tucker's first guess was slate.

"I thought it would be slate because it's really weak," Tucker said.

After crafting and conducting the test, Griffin and Tucker found out marble, in fact, had the greatest reaction.

Slate didn't react because of the calcium carbonate, Tucker said.

His experiment and presentation "Rocks Rock" won first place for the third-grade entries in the school's annual science fair May 9.

A group of fair-goers gathers around the "The Great Gum
X-Spearment" by fifth-graders Jenae Koplin and Claudia Moody. The
experiment won first place in its class. Students and their
families had the opportunity May 9 to see the projects in the
schoolwide fair.

A group of fair-goers gathers around the "The Great Gum X-Spearment" by fifth-graders Jenae Koplin and Claudia Moody. The experiment won first place in its class. Students and their families had the opportunity May 9 to see the projects in the schoolwide fair.

The duo's display board shared a space with two others at a front table in the West Elementary School gymnasium.

Behind the table more than 100 other projects filled the gymnasium to capacity.

Each student took the time to conduct an experiment with a group and present results in a schoolwide contest, extended learning teacher Barbie Hartwell said.

The point of the project was to instill the importance and tasks necessary to conduct the scientific method.

How did the schoolwide experiment turn out?

"The kids love it," Hartwell said. "It really brings science to life for them."

While parents and students gathered at the winner's table, many others fanned across the gym to see the other experiments.

"It's fun to see what everyone has come up with," Hartwell said.

The projects ran from such practical measures as discovering what solutions best remove stains from dimes to the more active.

Fourth-grader Tanner Brunton's group tested sports equipment to see what type of balls bounced highest on different surfaces.

During the experiment, Brunton discovered the challenge of maintaining precision.

"It was pretty hard to be able to measure them with a yardstick," he said.

The displays varied as much as the experiments. Some groups decided to bring in a hands-on element to give observers the opportunity to taste a certain compound or let them see exactly how mold attacks a piece of bread. Others created computer presentations to highlight their experiment.

The fair would have been in February to coincide with Douglas County's science fair, but because of state assessment tests, that wasn't plausible, Hartwell said. Moving it to May allowed it to be sort of a light release for the students after a long year, she said.

By getting the entire school involved and scheduling the fair in the evening, organizers hoped the fair would be more of a family experience, Hartwell said.

Although the event became a community draw, the core of the lessons return to the students.

Like Tucker, many of the students' first guesses regarding the results of their experiments were wrong.

That's no problem, Hartwell said.

"It's a successful project if you learn from it," she said.

Other first-place winners were: fourth-graders Sidney Johnson, Hannah Thevarajoo, and CJ Walls for their project "Dirt Dusters" and tie between fifth-graders Claudia Moody and Jenae Koplin with the project "The Great Gum X-Spearment" and Sadie May and Lori Coleman with the project "Rainbow Fiberoptics."

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