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Curiosity rules at Sherwood Forest Elementary's Science Fair

Mykael Henry shows off his investigation,
Mykael Henry shows off his investigation, 'Can you use lemons to create an electrical charge?' He made a 'lemon battery' and in the process identified the components required to make electricity.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Sherwood Forest Elementary had a record 170 students complete projects for this year's Science Fair, held in the school gym on April 15. All students are invited to participate in the annual event, and this year, our fourth- and fifth-grade teachers required participation. That shot our numbers to an all-time high.

Two months prior to the fair, students receive a packet of infomation that guides them through the steps for completing an experiment. It gives details on the scientific process, a list of possible topics, helpful Web sites and a diagram for setting up their display board.

With the help of our PTA, we visit classrooms, round up judges and even provide display boards if students need them. It's an all-school effort.

Nineteen judges included parent volunteers, five Todd Beamer High School students, and two science teachers from Lakota Middle School who volunteered a half day to look in on the work of Sherwood Forest's budding scientists. "Amazing work!" they all agreed.

Judges are invited for lunch and training, then spend the afternoon meeting one-on-one with students to review their projects. Blue, red or white ribbons are awarded based on a checklist of criteria outlined in the science packet. Students return for an hour in the evening to show off their experiments to a standing-room-only audience.

This is my 14th Science Fair, which I have promoted during each of my years as a Federal Way principal. I learn so much from the kids. I am delighted by their curiosity, and their findings. This year, for example, they answered:

• Which insulation best retains heat in a jar of water? Is it the tightly wrapped or the crumpled newspaper? Ask fourth-grader Solomiya Slobodyanyuk.

• Does toothpaste help protect our teeth? Sure enough! Check out the experiments on an egg shell by Kristian Bartel.

• Do sink or toilet bacteria grow faster? Justin Page can tell you that toilet bacteria grow faster, but sink bacteria are generally more dangerous!

• Which household cleaning substance can get rid of ketchup, mustard and chocolate sauce stains? Cindy Imm had carpet samples to prove her results.

• Is a dog's mouth cleaner than a human's? Jessica Stillwell puts the old myth to rest and concludes: No, it's not!

• Which kind of jam or jelly stains mom's carpet the worst? First-grader Lorinn Malady tested six jams and warns, "Watch out for blackberry!"

• How does a prey's ability to camouflage affect its survival? Evan Guaderrama's M&M experiment on various colors of paper led to both conclusions and additional questions. And after all, isn't that the reason we engage in science?

I'm so proud to create an environment where children learn the three R's, and also have opportunities to explore science and the arts. It's the rich education that every child deserves!

Barbara Bergman is principal at Sherwood Forest Elementary School in Federal Way

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