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From the formation of fossils to making rock candy and raging volcanoes, students at Melrose Elementary showed off their talents and experiments at the school’s science fair Tuesday.
The fair was the third and final science fair hosted at three elementary schools in the Princeton area: Mercer, Melrose and Straley Elementary Schools. The events were organized by Holly Flanigan, a parent volunteer who said she hoped the fair would encourage student interest in science.
“It started last year at Mercer School,” Flanigan said. “I was asking my kids when the science fair was and they told me there wasn’t one. It has really taken off since we hosted the first one at Mercer last year, and this year is the first fair for both Straley and Melrose. We have third, fourth and fifth graders participate, and they have so much fun doing it. We had 68 participants at Mercer, 26 at Straley and 30 at Melrose, which is great for the first year.”
Madison Addair is a third-grader at Melrose and said her project on what causes heart attacks was inspired by her mother’s job.
“My mom is a nurse at Bluefield Regional Medical Center and works in the ICU,” Addair said. “She talked with the cardiologists to get me some models and pictures of the heart. I read a few of her medical books and decided I wanted to do a project on the heart. The most interesting thing I learned is that the heart has a lot of arteries and the main artery is the coronary artery. I learned a blockage to the coronary artery can cause permanent injury.”
All of the students had to present their findings to a panel of judges, which Addair said made her nervous at first.
“I was really nervous when I started my presentation, but that went away,” she said. “I practiced a lot and didn’t even have to look at my cards that much. I really liked science before, but I never realized there were so many types. I think I’d like to be a nurse one day like my mom.”
Jaydon Craft, a third-grader, had to make three volcanoes by hand as part of his project.
“I wanted to do volcanoes because I thought they would be interesting,” Craft said. “You see them all the time on TV. First, I made an extinct volcano out of clay and vinegar, but it collapsed. I made another one out of paper mache and a soda bottle. I made a third one out of foam. That was the hardest because we couldn’t use a knife otherwise the foam would collapse. We had to use a foam cutter to shape it, which was hard. I wanted to do eruptions with them, but my mom thought it would be too messy.”
Craft said the project was more fun than work.
“It was a lot of fun,” Craft said. “I liked that I got to have fun and learn a lot of new things. I didn’t realize I was learning science because it was fun. I also got to make a big mess with the paper mache.”
Fifth-grader Hailey Meade did an experiment to see how to stop a shaken soda can from exploding.
“My sister sometimes shakes my sodas before she gives them to me,” Meade said. “My mom and I were trying to figure out how to stop the shaken soda from exploding. First, we shook a regular can for a minute and then opened it to get an idea of what it does. Then we shook one and tapped it on the lid and then we took another one and tapped it on the side. The third time with the flicking worked the best. That’s because the carbon dioxide in the pop often bubbles on the side when shaken and the flicking pops those bubbles. “It was fun trying to predict what would happen.”
Fourth-grader Luke Griffith did an experiment on how much salt it takes to float an egg in water.
“I learned a lot more about water density and what helps things float,” Griffith said. “I put the egg in the water without salt then in with different amounts of salt until it floated to the top. I’ve always been interested in science, so I thought it would be fun to be in a big competition. This was interesting because I like seeing how one little thing can change the whole experiment. I learned a lot more than I thought I would.”
Flanigan said the fair was made possible through donations and community volunteers.
“We collected donations from local businesses and parents to buy trophies for the winners and all the participants,” she said. “The judges are people from the community. We have people from the Board of Education, the Princeton Rescue Squad, social workers, professors from Concords and so many great people who volunteered their time.”
Flanigan said the science fair helps students learn outside the classroom and all participants will get to take part in a science-themed field trip at the end of the year as a reward.
“Teachers have so much else to cover that they are required to do, so this is sort of supplemental to what the students are learning in the classroom,” Flanigan said. “The projects are fantastic and really imaginative. I have a background in science, so I love getting to do this. These students aren’t just participating but they are learning and becoming actively involved in science. They learning science isn’t scary but a big, gloppy mess of fun.”
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org