Carson City students win at regional science fair

Fourth-grader Spencer Roberts recently switched from chocolate to vanilla ice cream -- and took first place in the regional science fair for it.

"I was eating ice cream with my friends and wondered which one would melt faster," he said. "So I did a science fair project on it."

He found chocolate melts an average of 10 minutes more quickly than vanilla does -- strawberry is in the middle.

"Now vanilla is my favorite," he said.

And his project was a favorite among judges. After winning Fritsch Elementary School's science fair, he went on to win the regional contest at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"I couldn't believe that I'd won," he said. "There were so many people at regionals and it was just a simple project. I had a big smile on my face."

Spencer said he thinks chocolate melts faster because its darker color absorbs the light.

Alexis Fallon, third-grader at Fritsch Elementary School, was also smiling when she learned she had placed third in the regional fair.

"It was surprising -- and nice," she said. "It's not often that people win in regionals."

Although last year she placed second there.

Alexis used physics to test which length of spring would shoot a marble farthest in a pinball machine she made for the experiment.

She found it was the shortest 7-centimeter spring which was most effective.

"When you compress the spring, the marble will go farther," she reported. "When you compress it, it has more kinetic energy."

Jasmine Stokes, 9, had never entered a science fair before this year when she moved to Carson City to attend Seeliger Elementary School from Hawthorne Primary School in Hawthorne.

Using a bone identification chart, she identified the remains inside an owl pellet as mice.

"I wanted to figure out what owls ate," she said. "I thought it would be interesting."

Her mother brought home the pellet from a teaching seminar then Janice turned it into her project.

"I liked dissecting the pellet," she said. "It was fun pulling the hair apart and getting the bones out."

All three said they will compete in the science fair next year but Spencer plans to enter the inventions category.

Dave Aalbers, principal of Fritsch Elementary School, encourages students to participate.

"We try to teach these kids reading, writing and arithmetic. In science it all comes together," Aalbers said. "You have to use math and you have to read -- it shows critical thinking."


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