“We figured out a really unique way to make a salt dough volcano,” said Ella Breakstone ’30, as she presented alongside Samantha Guevara ’30 and Varsha Bennabattula ’30 at the Grade 5 Science Fair.
Samantha added that in creating their project, the group wanted something visual to draw the audience in. “We didn’t just want to explain the whole thing,” she said. “We wanted people to see the eruption.”
During the annual fair, the students' work was one of the many projects that filled the lower school library on Friday, May 19. Other presentations featured thorough physics, biology, engineering, and chemistry research.
“My goals for the science fair are to have the students understand how the work of science includes research, observation, and experimentation,” said Lower School STEAM Coordinator and science teacher Shevon Morris. “I want them to become comfortable asking questions and coming up with their ideas to try to answer them using their schema and the presented evidence.”
After students selected a topic to explore, Morris and Library Media Specialist Leigh Roberts supported the students for over a month during science and library research classes as groups worked independently through the scientific process.
Each project created a rich cross-curricular experience. Students honed research, writing, and communication skills while delving into scientific concepts. The integration of technology strengthened their digital literacy, from creating informative Google slides to collecting data and creating digital graphs. The projects also provided opportunities for mathematical thinking, as students employed measuring skills and estimations to find averages.
After failing to illuminate a LED with an electric generator they constructed, Jake Roy ’30 and Cook Van Wyck ’30 worked with Upper School Innovation Lab Coordinator Mike Fischthal to determine the effectiveness of their machine. Using the lab’s oscilloscope, the students concluded that their device was capable of producing an electric charge, albeit a small one. The discovery sparked further inquiry.
“If we had stronger magnets, it would work,” said Jake.
As parents, faculty, and staff talked with each group, it was clear that the science fair projects provided an invaluable platform for students to explore their interests, collaborate with peers, and showcase their knowledge and abilities. As these young scientists embark on the next chapter of their educational journey, the lessons learned during the Science Fair will undoubtedly serve as a solid foundation for their future endeavors.
“I enjoyed watching the groups thrive in their partnerships and demonstrate impressive independence and competent executive functioning skills,” said Roberts. “This will certainly support their transition to Middle School!”