By Liam Broderick
On March 7th 2014, Chatham Park held its thirteenth annual Science Fair. Nearly 100 fourth and fifth graders participated, displaying over 50 projects. This event is sponsored by Chatham Park’s Home and School and is entirely voluntary.
There was no lack of creativity in projects or titles and entries differed from experiments to reports. Experiments varied from chemistry, to physics, to botany and even psychology.
The fourth grader’s projects were displayed in the gym. There you could test your memory with “How Many Numbers Can You Remember?” and learn about which baking sheets made the best chocolate chip cookies. There was also a brain teaser table where anyone could test their science knowledge.
In the cafeteria you could find more brain teasers and refreshments.
The chirps of crickets could be heard as well as the sounds of Alka-Seltzer tablets dissolving to make faux lava lamps. I talked to Varsha Rajan about her experiment, “Does exercise make you smarter?” She was testing if physical activity improves alertness and test performance. Her conclusion, she said, was very similar to tests done by professional labs. Jon Meyer and Sean Brown were another I interviewed. They were testing the reaction of Alka-Seltzer tablets in different water temperatures.
It seemed that most partners had found their research/experiment ideas on the internet, but not one fourth grade pair. Ben Szathamry and T.J. Donaghy got together one day and decided they should do something on roller coasters as their project. They tested “Potential vs. Kinetic Energy.” They tested the physics of roller coasters using different sized marbles and a foam tubing track that started at 5’11’’ high. Ben explained, “When the loop in the foam track is held in place, the marble fully circles the loop. When the track isn’t held, the marble pushes the track with its momentum and eats up some of its Kinetic energy, slowing the ball down and making it incapable of making the loop.”
Twenty judges made the rounds and picked the winners. Alex Macnow, himself a Chatham Park graduate, was a returning judge and also served as the evening’s emcee.
Mrs. Sharon Sweitzer was the chair of the event. She has had a long involvement in the Science Fair. She said, “It’s always a lot of work, but we get a lot of help from parents and volunteers. Every year the projects get better.”
This year’s winners were:
4th Grade Honorable Mention: Grace Sheibley & Campbell Carlin: “Water Density.”
4th Grade winner: Justin Salvesen: “Statistical Probability of Colors of M&MS in a Bag.”
5th Grade Honorable mention (tie):
Katherine Engleka & Eliana Cope: “The Handwriting Project.”
Olivia Tighe: “ The Unique Features of Turkey Vultures.”
5th Grade Winner: (tie)
Karen Buchanan: “Choosy Crickets Choose…”
Allison Harnly: “Which Cookie Sheet Makes the Best Cookies?”