Roberts Students Explore Unanswered Questions at School Science Fair

     Published on 4/12/16   Tagged under:    District News    Roberts preK-8 School   

They made their own lava lamps and bouncy balls. They tracked plant measurements and mold growth. They observed ice melting and gummy bears expanding. At the Roberts Science Fair, students explored their own unanswered questions, creating hypotheses and discovering results.
“The students gained the opportunity to be a scientist and use the scientific method,” Math Coach Rosalie Whipple said. “They participated in scientific inquiry and were able to apply their knowledge of science through experimentation… and they enjoyed being able to share their projects with their peers, teachers and parents!”
Sixth through eighth grade students were required to submit projects to the science fair, while kindergarten through fifth grade students could participate voluntarily. Ms. Whipple said that some kindergarten and first grade classes worked together to present a project, while the older kids submitted individual ones.
“Oil spills happen a lot, and they’re a big problem,” eighth grader Sam Livingston explained as he presented his project. “I read that in one oil spill, more than 35,000 birds died. So I decided to see if the commercials are right—if Dawn soap is really the best to help clean animals’ feathers after an oil spill.”
To test his hypothesis, Sam took four oil-soaked feathers and scrubbed each with a different kind of soap. After several minutes, the results were clear: “Dawn cleaned the feathers the best,” he concluded. “It’s made specifically for removing grease and being gentle on hands. This means it’s also better for birds.”
Classmates Louisa and Michaela Reitzel studied oil spills as well, but from a different perspective.
“We both love visiting the ocean and we love the animals that live in them,” Michaela explained. “So we studied how oil spills impact marine life.”
The girls filled a glass tank with water, colored with blue food coloring, and then added oil as if there had been an oil spill. Then, they used three different methods to see which one helped disperse the oil the best. First, they used a skimmer to remove oil; then, they used cotton balls as absorbents; and finally, they used dawn dish soap as a dispersant. They found that the Dawn dish soap was by far the best at removing the oil. “They have something similar in real life—a dispersant—that they use to help clean up the ocean after oil spills,” Louisa said.
Meanwhile, Connor Shanahan and Joey Sojewicz said their idea fell into their laps—literally. “I was eating something the other day and I accidentally dropped it,” Connor explained. “He said to me, 5 second rule.”
“We both thought it was probably a myth,” Joey added, of the saying that implies dropped food is still sanitary if picked up within 5 seconds. “So we created a control food—one that hadn’t been exposed to any outside bacteria—and compared it to foods that we dropped.”
The boys checked bacteria growth by examining results on agar plates—and they found their hypothesis to be proven correct. “So next time someone says ‘5 second rule,’ you probably don’t want to listen to them!” Connor said.
Louisa, Michaela and Sam all qualified to attend the SUNY ESF Science Fair in May if they choose. Great work, Roberts students, on expanding your STEM knowledge!