by Sue Austreng
They formed hypotheses.
They conducted experiments and recorded results.
They came to conclusions.
Determined to find definitive answers to questions like “Which combination will make the brownies rise higher?” “How long does it take to grow a stalactite?” and “What are the deadliest and most common forms of cancer?” 70 Morris Bye Elementary School, Coon Rapids, students elected to participate in the school’s annual science fair.
The school’s gymnasium was transformed from a basketball court to a laboratory when the school’s third-, fourth- and fifth-graders set up shop, displaying science fair projects and describing their experiments to judges.
Students’ parents and other family members were invited to inspect the displays and students received participatory medals that evening.
Participation in the science fair is a volunteer activity, not required to pass the grade, but encouraged as a practical method of applying lessons learned in the classroom.
Each student who took part in Morris Bye’s science fair received a participatory medal after conducting research and gathering data, displaying their project and describing to judges the purpose and result of their experiments, and answering pointed questions.
Judges (students at Anoka-Ramsey Community College) evaluated each student’s project, awarding points in each of five categories: attractiveness (of the display), purpose, procedures, methods and data presentation.
High scoring student projects earned the young scientists blue ribbons. Others earned red or white ribbons depending on their score on the judges’ sheets.
“It really pleases me to see how many kids – on their own – did these nice projects. We had 70 students do science fair projects this year. That’s impressive,” said Wendell Martin, fourth-grade science/social studies teacher and teacher leader for Morris Bye’s science fair.
Martin also emphasized that the science fair isn’t a competition and ribbons are awarded simply to give students a mark to try and beat next year.
“I’m trying to encourage competition for the students with themselves. If a student gets a red ribbon this year, I want that student to try to get a blue ribbon next year,” Martin said.
“I want to build that excitement for science. I’m trying to build that interest up and go with it.”
Principal Janel Wahlin thanked parents for their support of the science fair and told families gathered in the gymnasium-turned-laboratory, “We hope to continue this year after year as a tradition here at Morris Bye.”
To date, the Morris Bye Science Fair has been an annual tradition for almost 20 years, said Martin.
“We’re one of the only elementary schools in the district that have an annual science fair and these kids really like it,” he said. “They really do well.”
According to Martin, five Morris Bye students took their projects to the STEM Fair, staged at Blaine High School Jan. 28.
“This kids have an excitement for science and they’re learning lessons that they will use well into their lifetimes,” said Martin.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org