Gracie FairfaxJoshua Randall posed with his project, the Lemon Battery.
Gracie FairfaxBrendan Abell posed with his project, which examined how temperature affects the bounce of a tennis ball, lacrosse ball and basketball.
Gracie FairfaxBrayden Roventini presented his project, the Spin Art Bot, to a panel of judges.
Gracie FairfaxJudges (l-r) Donald Selvy, Kim McAllister and Jamie Miller evaluated a project using iPad evaluation forms.
Gracie FairfaxOne student’s project studied whether bubble gum or mint-flavored gum lasts longer.
Creativity Abounds At Jones Elementary STEM Fair
All-in-one toothbrushes, bubble gum and cupcakes were just a few of the topics covered in this year’s STEM fair at Jones Elementary. Participation in the fair was required for fifth grade and optional for third and fourth grade. Younger grades also contributed projects to the fair, whether through whole class projects or individual projects.
“They’re taking their learning from the classroom and applying it,” lead science and third-grade teacher Shannon Leichling said.
Students chose between a traditional science fair project and an engineering project, which included an invention. Those who chose the traditional science fair route thought of scientific questions to form a hypothesis and then tested their hypothesis to draw conclusions. Those who chose the engineering route looked at real-world problems and created inventions to solve the problems.
One of the students came up with an alternative approach to an automatic door.
“One of the judges [saw the automatic door project] and said, ‘This is such a great idea because I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a new door. This student should patent this,’” Leichling said.
Volunteers came in to judge the projects. Each project is judged three times; then, the points are averaged. Each grade level has a first-, second- and third-place winner. The first-place winner from each grade level goes on to the regional science and engineering fair.
“I liked how when things didn’t work, they came up with creative ways to do it again,” judge Donald Selvy said. “They told us about how many different times they tried something and the ways they changed it. They always came up with a good answer at the end.”
The engineering projects were judged based on problem, design plan, construction, testing, creativity and presentation. The traditional science projects were judged on the question, hypothesis, procedures, data log/observation log, graphs/charts, the analysis of data and the conclusion.
One of the memorable projects for judge Kim McAllister was a butter stick. “It was just so creative. They took an empty glue stick and filled it with butter so you can just spread butter on your toast,” McAllister said. “It’s like a portable butter stick. They really sold me on that one.”
Joshua Randall created a lemon battery. He used lemons, wires as a negative charge and nails as a positive charge to light a small light bulb. He found the idea on YouTube and thought it would be fun to try it himself. “Lemons and any kind of fruit that has acid can light a light bulb,” said Joshua, citing his newfound knowledge.
Brendan Abell investigated the effects of temperature on the bounce of a tennis ball, basketball and lacrosse ball. He bounced each ball on a concrete surface in both cold and warm temperatures. The warm temperature was 69 degrees while the cold temperature was 33 degrees. One piece of data he found was that the basketball bounced seven inches lower in the colder temperature.
“[I learned] that the temperature really matters in sports. It affects the equipment you use too,” Brendan said.
Some students attempted to solve personal struggles with their projects.
“I always want to do spin art because it’s really cool and my mom always says no because it splatters,” Brayden Roventini said.
So Brayden set out to create a spin art bot using markers instead of paint.
“I thought it was going to be really complex but it’s really simple,” Brayden said. “You just need an unbalanced force.”
He created his bot using a cup, four markers, a nut, a hot-glue gun, paper, a toy motor, a AAA battery and a drill. He tried adding hot glue to the shaft to unbalance the weight and it wasn’t initially successful, but when he added a nut on the shaft, he created an unbalanced weight, which moved the shaft.
Leichling enjoyed seeing the variety of creative projects the students presented. “To see what they’re motivated by outside of school, it helps me come up with ideas of how to motivate them in the classroom,” Leichling said.
STEM Fair Winners
1st Place-Scott Shushan
2nd Place-Jake Austin
3rd Place-Charlotte Ellis &
Traditional Science Fair
1st Place-Matthias Simonsen
2nd Place-Brooklyn LaBrier & Annabelle Ulak
3rd Place-Devlan Collier
Honorable Mention-Zachary Simpkins
1st Place-Julian Malizzi
2nd Place-Conner Smith
Traditional Science Fair
1st Place-Nadine Maggio
2nd Place-Lily McCallister
3rd Place-Kate Roberts
Honorable Mention-Ella McCarthy
1st Place-Evan Parsons &
2nd Place-Spencer Feldman
3rd Place-Quinn Owen
Honorable Mention-Julia Sharpe
Honorable Mention-Jocelyn Simmons & Jessica Alden
Traditional Science Fair
1st Place-Andrew Glesmann
2nd Place-Finn Ackerman
3rd Place-Nora Bodkin
Honorable Mention– Charlotte Marriner & Kaitlyn Cochran
Honorable Mention-Anna Reilly
3rd Grade-Matthias Simonsen
4th Grade-Nadine Maggio
5th Grade-Andrew Glesmann