by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Whether it was effects of containers on sound, static electricity, the aerodynamics of different shapes or the effect of music on horror video game experiences, Cologne Academy students were able to explore their scientific passions.
About 120 students took part in the 5th annual Middle School Science Fair last Thursday, part of the school’s Expo held in conjunction with National School Choice Week. Students first had the opportunity to start working on their projects in Thanksgiving, according to seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Jenny Neubarth.
“That’s when they started thinking of their ideas,” she said. “Probably the best projects got worked on over Christmas break.”
Neubarth, along with sixth-grade science teacher Chris Johnson and fifth-grade science teacher Kim Frederich, helped students brainstorm ideas and enhance their projects.
She praised the educational opportunities provided by the science fair, saying it helps to meet state goals.
“It’s so valuable because on the state tests, one of the biggest areas where they test is on the nature of science,” she said.
Through practical application of the scientific method, students learn how to design a working experiment.
“It’s one thing to read that in a book, but it’s another thing to make an experiment and pick out what you need to do,” she said.
She added it also gave students opportunities to present their findings
“It’s also about learning how to talk, give their presentations,” she said, “And how to make something that looks nice and how to write a paper.”
Neubarth said she emphasizes the presentations.
“It’s so important because kids have to know how to make something that stands out and make something that looks good to your eye, not just has all the information but shows you how to use that,” she said. “Hands-on is such a great way to learn anything and certainly with science.”
Among the first-timers at the science fair was fifth-grader Jesse Bunn, who did his project on “Moon Phases,” involving a flashlight and shoebox test of what causes them.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking, but now it’s fun,” he said.
Fellow fifth-grader Trenton Knutson went through a few different project ideas before settling on “Balloon Static.”
“I took a balloon, rubbed it on the wall and stuck it to the wall,” he said, measuring the amount of time it stayed on the wall. “My second trial stuck on the wall for 39 minutes.”
Students certainly worked on their presentation as sixth-grader Tristan Copelan highlighted his with balloons and fifth-grader Madison Beck highlighted hers with music.
Beck said she enjoyed her project, “Metal Bowl Music,” even though the results surprised her.
The project involved placing her mom’s iPhone in different sized metal cooking bowls and measuring decibels using a downloaded app, to see which bowl created the loudest sound.
Beck expected the larger bowl would result in a louder sound, but it was in fact the smaller bowl.
“I was really surprised at the results,” she said. “I found out it’s (the smaller bowl) trapping the sound so it doesn’t get out, but this one’s really open so it comes out right away.”
The idea came to her during a Halloween party.
“The music wasn’t loud enough to go over the guests so we used these bowls to make it a bit louder,” she said.
Explaining she even went the length to turn off the furnace and make sure the house was silent, Beck said she was eager to do another one next year.
“It was pretty fun,” she said. “I got to listen to my favorite songs in the world and I got to do it all the time.”
A veteran of the science fair, eighth-grader Ben Beresford drew a large crowd of younger students with his project involving video game music.
Titled “Adults and jump scares,” Beresford took a look at the impact of different types of music on the level of horror experienced by people while playing “Slender: The Eight Pages,” a simple, yet popular atmospheric horror game.
“I found out that horror games nowadays, or any video games for that matter, have found out a way to establish almost psychological connection between anyone playing the game and the game itself,” he said. “In horror games, they feel like something is going to scare them and get them.”
Beresford’s previous projects were more eco-science projects, so he was eager to see the results of this project.
“It was inconclusive, but overall it was interesting seeing there was an alteration in the psychological connections like what’s coming through your eardrums,” said Beresford. “It was a good insight into how the mind works a little.”
Finding unexpected results is just the type of thing teachers envisioned with their personalized projects.
“It’s been interesting to me for a while,” said Beresford. “And I thought it would be fun to test the ideas going on in my head.”
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners of the science fair, as voted on by community judges and teachers, were:
Overall Winners – 1. Robert Semrad (Heat Conductivity of Metals), 2. Maddie Moeller (Which Potting Mix Works Best), 3. Lauren Pelletier (Does Storage Temperature of Orange Juice Affect pH)
Eighth Grade – 1. Kirsten Chapman (Are You Smarter Than an 8th Grader?), 2. Sam Fisher (Which Type of Music is Most Distracting While Studying?), 3. Jordon Knutson (Which Cleaning Product Kills the Most Bacteria)
Seventh Grade – 1. Kaleesa Houston (Which Paper Towel is the Strongest), 2. Jacob Mapstone (Which Baseball Statistic Most Affects Winning), 3. Dustin Gray (Which Size Balloon Makes a Hovercraft go Fastest)
Sixth Grade – 1. Ellenya Urzedowski (Who Has the Largest Lung Capacity), 2. Kathryn Jans (Which Gender Does the Grocery Shopping), 3. Gracie Beatty (Which Shape is the Most Aerodynamic),
Fifth Grade – 1. Noah Bartels, Ansley Mapstone (Which Paper Towel is Best, Which Fat Makes the Best Cookie), 2. Kelli Salisbury, Andrew Steines (What Molds Fastest, Which Light is Easiest to Read By), 3. Sam Olson, Jack Peters (Can a Lego Mindsorter Distinguish Color?, Which Chip is Crunchiest When Wet)