Students feel the gravity of their first science fair

Jan 28 2011 - 12:08am

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(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Master Sgt. Steve Blackwood judges a science fair project by student Rosi Reyes as Reyes works on her netbook at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Thursday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Melissa Dearston (right) judges a student science project by Hannah Chatwin at Wasatch Elementary School on Thursday. Hannah’s project is “Tornado in a Bottle.”
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)  Students display their science projects at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Master Sgt. Steve Blackwood judges a science fair project by student Rosi Reyes as Reyes works on her netbook at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield on Thursday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Melissa Dearston (right) judges a student science project by Hannah Chatwin at Wasatch Elementary School on Thursday. Hannah’s project is “Tornado in a Bottle.”
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)  Students display their science projects at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield.

CLEARFIELD -- Students sat quietly next to their science projects at Wasatch Elementary School, then spoke to judges who asked questions.

Several fifth- and sixth-grade classes participated in a science fair at the school Thursday, hoping they would be selected to go on to the District Science Fair.

Some young scientists thought about their project well in advance, while others didn't think about doing one until this school year.

Sixth-grade student Braden Thornock likes roller coasters and has an interest in gravity. He thought of a project last year as a fifth-grader but couldn't present it last year, so he worked on it during the summer.

His project required testing roller coasters at Lagoon to find the G-forces on each, so he spent a day at the park.

"I had the idea in fifth grade but couldn't do it. Lagoon has to be open. I just planned ahead," said Braden, who is in ReNae Jackson's class.

"Gravity is always everywhere. G-force is just how we measure gravity. It was fun."

Using a gravimeter installed on his iPod, Thornock rode all of the park's roller coaster rides three times to measure the G-forces of each. He showed his iPod with the instrument that records the G-forces.

"This project was beneficial because G-force means how to measure gravity," Braden said.

He thought the ride "Wicked" would have the most force, but learned that the Jet Star was actually the winner because of its sharp turns. "Wicked" didn't have the turns but has steep hills, he said.

Kira Morton wanted to learn more about friction.

Kira held up a Bakugan -- a round toy that pops open to create another toy -- and a rubber ball.

"The Bakugan kept rolling away, so I wanted to see which one rolls down faster," she said.

Kira propped up a couple of books to do the test. She not only used the Bakugan and the ball, but also two tiny toy cars.

Pointing to a graph, she explained how many milliseconds it took for each item to roll down the books. She found the Bakugan was the fastest.

"I was surprised the cars had a really big difference (in time)," she said.

Another student studied how long it takes various liquids to freeze, while another wanted to know what type of paper airplane flies the farthest.

Elisabeth Budd recalled the time her fish died when an incandescent bulb was used to heat the water. That sad incident inspired her to test light bulbs to see how fast water evaporates under different types of bulbs.

She found that water evaporates much faster under an incandescent bulb than under a fluorescent light bulb, because incandescent bulbs create more heat, she said.

Elisabeth's project, "Battle of the Bulbs," taught her there are spaces where temperature control is required and which type of light is the most energy-efficient.

In future studies, the 11-year-old wants to find out how long it takes water to evaporate. She plans to do the test over a period of about 19 hours.

"I will have to start early and stay up pretty late."

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