Main Street students excel at science fair

Zoe Greszler • Jun 8, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Do dogs understand English? What type of gum blows the biggest bubbles? Does music affect your heart rate?

These are some of the questions Donell Cornell's sixth-grade science class chose to explore in the fourth annual Main Street School science fair.

Students were given the option to finish their current unit by either taking a test or doing a project and participating in the noncompetitive science fair that took place recently.

"It is nice that the students can develop their own scientific investigation and learn science hands on without the pressure of a state test," sixth-grade teacher Michele McConnell said.

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"They got to choose what question they would do," McConnell explained. "I think this is very important, especially with today's stress and test way of doing things."

One student, Mitchell Sommers, 12, chose to explore the question "Does exercise affect memory?"

His conclusion?

"It does," he said. "It can help it a little bit at first, but if you exercise more it can help you remember more."

Sommers conducted an experiment where he had 20 of his friends study some objects in 'Box 1' for 30 seconds and then gave them three minutes to recall everything they could. He then had his friends exercise for 30 minutes and repeat this with a second set of objects in 'Box 2'.

"They all did better with Box 2 after they exercised," Sommers said.

Sommers said he "enjoyed" doing the experiment and learned a lot, but said his favorite part was "testing the people."

Kristen Olsen, 12, chose to test the question "Does music affect your heart rate?"

"I chose this because I play an instrument and I'm interested in the medical field," Olsen said. "I want to be a nurse."

"I had (my subjects) rest for four minutes and then I took their heart rate," Olsen explained. "Then I had them listen to some music four minutes and took their heart rates again. And I did it again for the different music."

"Rock music increases heart rate, but slow music increases it just a little," Olsen said.

"I liked it all," Olsen said about her completing her project. "But seeing the graphs of the heart rates was my favorite."

"Our students did a wonderful job," sixth-grade English and social studies teacher Vicki Penrose said. "These projects were done 100 percent at home on their own. Parents can help, but this was a student project. This was their chance to take pride in something they've worked hard on."

"This is the kids' chance to showcase something they are proud of and it gives parents a chance to see what we do on a daily basis," Penrose added.

The students who chose to do the science fair rather than the test had to follow a series of steps called the scientific method.

"The students had to pick a question and form a hypothesis about that question, essentially what they thought would happen," McConnell explained. "Then they had to collect and analyze data and draw a conclusion of whether or not their hypothesis was correct. We got together with them and had them write in their log books once a week."

This process took some time and planning.

"This whole thing took about a month to a month and a half," McConnell said. "We had a total of 70 projects, an excellent turn out. They went above and beyond my expectations."

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