Science stirs student imaginations

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A body in motion tends to stay in motion, or so Sir Isaac Newton theorized long ago. Except, of course, when that body stops to examine a fascinating science project, which is exactly what happened at Grant D. Morse Elementary School’s annual science fair on Friday, Jan. 31. Third grade students in Brooke Ryan and Hilarie Wiacek’s classes presented the results of a month of scientific inquiry and experimentation to their schoolmates and families. Using everything from Alka-Seltzer and live fish to pennies and ice cubes, students set out to answer some of life’s most perplexing questions, such as whether or not you can inflate a balloon with a rotten banana and which color crayon melts the fastest.

“It’s exciting. There are a lot of great ideas,” said Ryan, who explained that the students employed the scientific method for their projects: asking questions and then testing their hypotheses. “They want to know the answers and see what happens.”

Getting an early start on their Common Core science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the students created projects that reflected inquiry into nearly every scientific discipline.


While Ashley Pitt delved into botany by observing how a plant reacts to being treated with bleach, Debora Lundy tested the laws of physics with her “Pop!” project, based on the hypothesis that a water balloon is more likely to burst when the height from which it is dropped increases. Julian Hackett became a young marine life behaviorist when he theorized that his Siamese fighting fish, Speckles, would react to seeing himself in a mirror. Indeed, Speckles did puff out his gills when he caught sight of himself and many of Julian’s classmates eagerly took turns testing the theory. Proving that chemistry can be fun as well as educational, Austin Kuriplach created his own lava lamp in an empty soda bottle using vinegar, canola oil, water, food coloring and Alka-Seltzer. He explained that he had to perform the experiment several times to get the proportions right, but enjoyed seeing the lamp light up.

In addition to studying science, the students had an opportunity to work on their public speaking skills by presenting their results first in the classroom and later to their parents and grandparents. “This is elementary school at its best,” said Principal Don Dieckmann. “The projects look fantastic and the kids worked hard on them.”