Science fair proves smashing, bubbling, exploding successFlaming gummy bears, candy-propelled soda cans, wind turbines and potato guns were just some of the experiments presented by Superior High School freshmen during their first science fair Thursday.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Flaming gummy bears, candy-propelled soda cans, wind turbines and potato guns were just some of the experiments presented by Superior High School freshmen during their first science fair Thursday.
“We thought it would be a great idea for kids to be creative and learn about things they’re interested in,” said science teacher Mike Weinandt. “So far it’s a smashing success.”
Conlan Hinkel spent three weekends at his uncle’s house, testing the best way to cut mild steel of three different thicknesses. Going into the experiment, he thought a plasma arc cutter would trump both the oxy-acetylene torch and mechanical reciprocating saw. The freshman was wrong.
“None worked the best,” Hinkel said. “But there is a best for each situation.”
If you have no electricity, he said, oxy-acetylene is your best bet. If you want a straight cut without a lot of cleaning up to make it smooth, the mechanical saw was best, unless it was a very thick piece of metal. Both oxy-acetylene and plasma arc are better for a complex or curved cut.
“I learned a lot,” Hinkel said. “I learned things I normally wouldn’t have known just sitting in science class.”
Rachael Jaszczak said she may have tried her dog intelligence test regardless of the science fair because she had so much fun going to visit people and testing their dogs. Of the nine dogs she tested for optic permanence, spatial perception and the ability to learn, five did quite well. Blek, a 6-year-old German shepherd and member of the Superior Police Department’s K-9 unit, scored the best. But Jinx, a 4-year-old black Labrador, performed nearly as well. Factors in canine intelligence, Jaszczak said, are determined in part by the dog’s age and time spent with the owner. Spoiled dogs, she said, didn’t do well on the test.
Rachel Dixon and Sarah Urban determined the fastest way to melt an ice cube was by boiling. Prompted by a Mythbusters television episode, August Cadotte and Mike Nowicki tested how many layers of crushed aluminum cans it takes to stop a bullet.
“It takes six layers of smashed cans to save your life from a .22 caliber bullet,” they wrote in their conclusion.
A glass bottle, a hard-boiled egg and a burning piece of paper provided Cody Bodin a lesson in air pressure changes and Jordyn Nepper found a small wind turbine could put out between three and six volts of electricity. Dimples in Mentos cause them to react more strongly with soda, sending a can flying higher, students found, and the chemical reaction between melted potassium chlorate and sugar will give you fire, smoke and a dancing gummy bear. The freshmen studied mold, bacteria, chemical reactions and genetics in their projects. A walk through the gymnasium Thursday showed no two experiments were the same.
“Within the guidelines it’s amazing what things they came up with,” Weinandt said. “We knew the kids were good. We didn’t know they were this good.”
Science teachers Bill Reynolds, Tyler Ross, Weinandt and Lori Danz gave their students two months to take their experiments from hypothesis to rough draft to finished project. The science fair went so well, Weinandt said, that teachers plan to make it an annual event.
“We hope to expand it into the 10th grade next year,” he said.