Cascade fifth-graders hold science fair
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:53 AM
MARYSVILLE Cascade Elementary School fifth-graders showed off their technical prowess at the schools annual science fair last week, learning about the scientific method while preparing for an increasing science focus on state tests in coming years.
The annual event fills the school gym with displays and experiments of many different natures, and March 22 saw some of the most elaborate and articulate expositions of knowledge and discovery. There was a glowing pickle, a homemade solar panel and one budding scientist wanted to know how different products dealt with her naturally frizzy hair.
That was McKenzie Green, whose display read Money cant buy you happiness, but can it buy good hair? The 11-year-old tried a combination of many different products, with mom taking more than 50 pictures of the results. The results varied widely, with smiling pics of McKenzie with a crazy afro to one with her mop looking like a wet poodle. She didnt just put herself into her work, she was the experiment.
I have really frizzy hair and I really want it not frizzy, Green explained.
Standing behind her was the list of results, with a photo of the smiling student with a different do and percentages listed below. At a bottom corner were samples of the products tested. The best results came from one of the cheapest products, although she had to use three times the recommended amount. It took her about 15 days of showering, washing, rinsing and repeating: lots of repeating.
Expensive is not always the best one, cheaper is not always the worst, Green explained.
Across the aisle Jeremiah McMahan had a pickle glowing a dull yellow, thanks to jumper cables clamped to leads coming out the ends. The color of the light helped him identify the pickles substance, he explained.
Id never seen a pickle glow before, McMahan said. Sodium makes it glow.
Principal Chris Sampley was marveling at the project by Kendall Woody, who brazed and soldered a solar-powered water heating system. Woodys version measured about four feet tall by 18 inches wide and involved a complex system of pumps and tubing to feed the 3/4 inch copper pipes that father Anton Woody swore his son assembled on his own. He is a pipe fitter by trade and his 10-year-old had picked up some tips over the years.
Kendall did all the brazing, he did all the drilling, Anton Woody said, adding that the family house has a solar system on the roof that pre-heats water going to the hot water heater. No problems with long showers at the Woody manse.
But theres more at stake to listen to Kendall tell it.
When you use solar power you can stop global warming, the fifth-grader explained, noting that his system took him only five days to build. If we do solar power, it doesnt waste any money.
That is so neat, Sampley exclaimed. You did learn something.
For Ross Hawkins, the fair is a way to lure kids into science, just as state requirements for the Washington Assessment of Student Learning start requiring fifth-graders to be measured on the subject, starting this year. The new test will present students with a scenario and they will have to be able to substitute variables in the equations.
This is preparing them for it, said Hawkins, in his fifth year teaching at the school on 100th Street NE just outside Marysvilles city limits.
Getting ready for the fair students learned about control groups, variables and presenting conclusions. They also focused on making a hypothesis and questioning their observations during an experiment. In the end, conclusion went from being a word in their vocabulary to an action item in the tool box.
It was a blast, Hawkins said. They had a lot of fun and they learned a lot.
Jenni Tomas has taught for 19 years, seven at Cascade, and she and Hawkins got a laugh from the display of one student who tried to find out who had the worst breath or smelled worse, humans or animals. The student took swabs from the mouths of his dad and the family dog. The dog had the higher Ph, it turned out. Dad wasnt available for comment.