Sunny Hills dedicates night to science displays and activities
March 20, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
For his first ever science fair project, 6-year-old Atharv Allepally borrowed an idea from Dr. Seuss and made “Oobleck,” slime made out of corn starch and water, that has the properties of both solids and liquids.
“When you shake it a lot, it becomes a liquid,” the kindergartner said, standing up straight in font of his presentation board. “When you make it stay still, it becomes hard again.”
Allepally attends Sunny Hills Elementary School, and his venture into dilatant materials was just one among the nearly 100 projects at the school’s Science Fair March 14.
“It’s so fun to see all the families and see the kids talking about their projects with their families and friends,” said Sarah White, principal at Sunny Hills. “It’s just so interesting to see the variety of things they investigated at home.”
Sponsored by the school’s PTA, the event is meant to promote science, she said,.
“They are doing a lot in class about inquiry and understanding the scientific process and those things, but they don’t do anything specific about their project in school,” White said. She added that the children came up with the ideas on their own. “They are really applying it (the scientific process) at home with something that they are interested in. It’s really cool.”
Seven-year-old Ellie Roberts was interested in finding out what works best to clean pennies.
“I took these pennies,” the second grader said, pointing to a line of coins, “and dipped them in the vinegar and salt, ketchup, bleach, water and lemon.”
Roberts said that she originally predicted that the vinegar and salt solution would work the best. But it turns out, she said while pointing to the pennies that had been soaked in ketchup, that dressing up hot dogs isn’t the only thing the condiment is good for.
For his project, Hayden Lynch, who attends fourth grade at Sunny Hills, wanted to study the growth rate of crystals made from a borax detergent solution.
“I think that crystals grow more in boiling water because they can dissolve. Lukewarm water kind of dissolves, but then this one doesn’t even dissolve. It just makes the pipe cleaner go hard in places,” he said pointing to a pipe cleaner on his presentation board. His favorite part of the project, Lynch said, was getting to work with a friend.
Eight-year-old Ryan Shipley had the same display at the fair that he had last year and the year before that, as well as the same display that all three of his older brothers have shown off at their science fairs. His father is a doctor at Overlake Hospital and every year he brings different organs for the students to examine.
“It’s kind of fun,” Ryan said. “You get to touch all this and see what’s inside.”
The second grader and his dad wore plastic gloves and stood behind an L-shaped table, wrapped in paper. Beside the constant crowd of children, the aroma of a hospital crossed with a butchers shop surrounded the table. Ryan Shipley told one of his classmates that you get use to the smell.
Between the spine and spleen sat two different sets of lungs. One was plump and pink, the other resembled a burned batch of liver and onions.
“If I could teach them anything today, it would be not to smoke,” Eric Shipley said, explaining why he includes a set of smokers’ lungs.
“It’s very interesting how some of them are just fascinated by it and they are interesting in health care and medicine, and others are disgusted,” he added. “But it’s a unique experience where you can hold a heart or hold a brain or inflate some lungs, or feel the spine.”
While White didn’t jump on the chance to poke a brain, she said she was happy to see her students do so.
“I think that is the good thing about exposing them to this much science at such an early age,” White said. “When I was in school, we really weren’t exposed to that kind of science, really, until high school. And at that point it’s gross. But as a kid, they are just so curious, and it’s so engaging for them. And they don’t develop those feelings that maybe we might have about it, which is great.”