“I ate the lettuce I grew and it was delicious,” and other Student Discoveries from the Middle School Science Fair

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Famed astrophysicist and author, Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, “Science is a cooperative enterprise, spanning the generations. It’s the passing of a torch from teacher, to student, to teacher. A community of minds reaching back to antiquity and forward to the stars.” This notion of science was alive and well at the middle school on May 4th, when it hosted its annual Science Fair.

Each year, all three grades work their way through the scientific method with the guidance of their artful, inspiring teachers, Soo Mee Kaas, Cecily Moyer, Anna Chapman, Grace Daniel, Bernie Wu, and John Denton. They engage in scientific inquiry and investigation as they ask questions, state hypotheses, and set up experiments. The students collect data about their projects over weeks and test one or more variables so they can analyze the results and draw conclusions. Students become scientists and the ownership that they feel over their projects is evident on this exciting day.

This year, friends, families, and the school community were wowed by experiments with drones, skateboard ally-oops, baking soda bottle rockets, and tall geysers of cola catalyzed by mentos. They learned the science of sports as they heard about experiments on the velocity of hockey pucks and the impact of height on an individual’s basketball shot.  They were fascinated by all things growing, from slime mold, to bacteria, to lettuce plants. They were challenged to think about how perception influences behavior and memory. They were inspired by ideas about how we can stop erosion and cool the earth’s atmosphere, questions explicitly connected to the sixth grade earth science curriculum, which focuses on climate change this year.

The students spoke eloquently with visitors about how they conducted their experiments and about their setbacks and successes. Each project yielded some answers, but more importantly, inspired more questions, reinforcing the power of inquiry-based projects to connect students to the content and create the habits of mind required for life-long learning.

During Silent Meeting that week, middle schoolers reflected on the most interesting thing they learned while doing their Science Fair projects. One student thought that it “was pretty cool” that plants could help combat the beach erosion caused by hurricanes and another was impressed by the efficiency of hydroponic farming. “I ate the lettuce I grew and it was delicious.” It was clear that what stuck with them was the idea of making and responding to change. We are excited to see where these ideas take them in the future!

To view photos from the MS Science Fair, click here.

By Kira Kingren, Middle School Assistant Director

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