by Lisa Tome
Tori Compton was willing to endure whatever was necessary to complete her science project.
Compton, a fifth grader at North East Elementary School, got sprayed with soda more than once while watching the impact of dropping a Mentos candy into various brands of soft drinks.
"Different balances of sugar in the sodas make a bigger reaction. Diet Coke was the winner. But I had a lot of fun with this. I got sprayed with soda when I crushed up a Mento because I couldn't get out of the way fast enough," said Compton.
Her fellow fifth grader, Trista Graham, learned a whole new concept when creating her project, a balloon hovercraft. "I learned that friction can hold a hovercraft back. I never knew there was such a thing as friction," said Graham. She spent a day completing her experiment and then an additional three or four days putting it together on a display board. "I'm proud of it, It's the first time I did a science project," she said.
These fifth graders were just two of the school's 37 science project creators this year.
Science Fair is a rich tradition at the school. It was started by Catherine Benjamin and Susan Carr in 1993. It's a voluntary program open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Judges volunteer to look at the projects and question students. This year, the judges were from within the school system. Retired teachers also returned to help. Students are introduced to science projects during five after school sessions. Organizer Marian Martino explained that during those sessions students could ask questions, receive assistance regarding research hints and tips and more. They also were given display boards free of charge. The school funds the boards.
Each student who participated received a blue ribbon to wear in school. There was also an evening awards ceremony to which parents were invited. Prizes were presented courtesy of the PTO.
Students who opted not to participate in the science fair received motivation to participate in the future. Each class also view the fair. The scope of projects was broad-based. Some of the projects using a lemon to power a light bulb, how a doorbell rings, germs, the amount of sugar in popular beverages, clean energy, untangling doll hair, clock made from a potato, and more.