Working together on science projects

Students wander among the  science projects  in the Fritsch  Elementary School cafeteria Thursday.  Rick Gunn Nevada Appeal

Students wander among the science projects in the Fritsch Elementary School cafeteria Thursday. Rick Gunn Nevada Appeal

Most science fair projects are done by individuals, but students in a fourth-grade class at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School joined together for one.

"All of our class did it," said Kyle Hurst, 9. "We worked together as a family."

He and the 11 other students in Sharon Meier's and Brenda Grigsby's class spent several weeks studying the effect of natural light versus artificial light on zinnia seeds.

"The main reason we did it as a group is, some students don't get a lot of help at home," Meier said. "We divided them into two groups. One planted the seeds in natural light. The other in artificial light."

Students took care of the plants as a group, but took their own data individually. They came up with the conclusion - that their plants grew better in artificial light because there wasn't much sun and it was cold near the windows - as a group.

"It went really well," Meier said. "They came in every day and checked the plants to see if they grew."

It was the first year her students produced a group project. Many teachers of younger students do group projects to acquaint students with the scientific process, but encourage them to do their own as they grow older.

"I learned that teamwork always helps," said Ricardo Castenead, 10, who worked on the project. "It's kind of like if we weren't a team, it would be very hard to plant the seeds and keep up with the watering."

Eileen Jansee, a second-grade teacher at Bordewich-Bray and the science fair coordinator, is often amazed by student projects.

"I like the variety of projects and the fact we have so much participation," she said. "There are lots and lots of great questions. I would never think of the things kids come up with to test. Science fair projects are very, very good for their learning."

Judging was Thursday afternoon at Bordewich-Bray and at Fritsch Elementary School.

"The science fair projects are getting better and better each year," said Diana Easby, a fourth-grade teacher and science fair coordinator at Fritsch. "The kids are really understanding the process and coming up with wonderful questions. They have to experiment to come up with the answer. That's what we're looking for."

Samantha Owens, 10, a student in her class, created the Toilet Telephone for this year's science fair.

"I made a telephone out of two toilet paper rolls with a string, and it really works," she said. "My whole class got to try it out."

She got the idea after her dad told her she talks on the phone a lot.

"I didn't think it would work," she said. "I only thought it worked in cartoons. The scientific explanation is that sound travels through any medium."

Her dad was the first person she talked to on the phone.

"You don't know if it's going to work or not. You have to guess. My dad's first words were 'Hello, Samantha.'"

n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at or 881-1219.

Special Recognition Awards

third to fifth grade

• First place Sean Roysdon, fourth grade, "Do Animals like Music?"

• Second place, Mrs. Meier's fourth-grade class, "Do seeds grow better with natural or artificial light?"

• Third-place tie: Brandon Murray, third grade, "Will water temperature affect the rate in which an apple slice turns brown?" and Trey Mathis, fifth grade, "How does vinegar make eggs turn soft?"

Third-grade winners

• First place, Rachel Streeter, "Will light and temperature affect the rate a banana rots?"

• Second place, Evan Carlson, "Wash your veggies"

• Third place, Zach Drake, "How consistent is a catapult?"

Fourth-grade winners

There were so many fourth-grade science fair projects that two winners were chosen in each category.

• First place, Marshall Ruf, "Don't blow your top," and Alissa Hayes, "How does music affect blood pressure?"

• Second place, Ms. Prause's class project, "Four boats and marbles" and Cody Reno, "Tsunami experiment"

• Third place, McKena Young, "Vanilla/balloon-osmosis" and Miranda Callahan, "Colors"

Fifth-grade winners

• First-place, Lucas Johnson, "Single arch versus double arch bridge"

• Second-place, group project, Michelle Hoffman and Beverly Stevenson, "Can good hand-washing decrease germs?"

• Third-place, Darian Sheldon, "Molecules and eggs"


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