Does mint flavored gum increase the temperature in one’s mouth? What ratio of vinegar and baking soda makes the best volcanic explosion? Gifft Hill School third and fourth graders answered these questions and more with their end of the year science projects, displayed at a Tuesday afternoon, May 19, science fair.
Students were eager to show off their weeks of hard work creating experiments, testing hypotheses and analyzing data to bring them to their conclusions. Third and fourth grade math and science teacher Jill Hale got her students started by giving them a list of questions to consider and Web sites to investigate.
“They got to pick any topic they wanted just as long as it was something they could test,” said Hale. “I just really wanted them to go through the process of asking a question, coming up with an experiment and writing out the procedure for it, doing the experiment, collecting data and deciding whether they proved or disproved their hypothesis.”
Other topics students investigated included the effect of laundry water runoff on plant growth, corrosion of metals, which type of dog food is preferred best and which shape of arrow travels farthest.
“That student really just wanted to build a bow and arrow, and I told him he had to come up with something to test with it,” said Hale. “He tested a spear, a cube and a pyramid at the end of each arrow, shooting each of them a couple different times and recording how far they traveled. Based on the average distances, he determined that the arrow with the pyramid on it traveled farthest.”
Students set up tri-fold poster boards at the science fair displaying the question they investigated, their hypothesis, and detailed information on their experiments, including materials used and data collected. The students were on hand to answer questions about their research.
“You should be able to look at the display and do the whole experiment yourself,” said Hale. “Some students shared pictures of what they did, and some brought in their experiments, including a magnetic motor and the exploding volcano.”
Classmates, friends and family were invited to the science fair, where the third and fourth graders were eager to show off their experiments. This is the second time Hale’s students have put on a science fair, and she plans to continue the tradition next year, she explained.
“I just wanted them to be excited about science,” said Hale. “It’s become such a big deal. They do their work at home and their families get involved, then we all get to come together at the end of the year.”
While the fair itself was a thrill for students, the experiments themselves are the important part of the lesson, Hale continued.
“It takes them through the whole process of scientific investigation,” she said. “I wanted them to be able to share at the end because they put so much work into it. My kids worked really, really hard.”