In this week's Almanac, staff writer Marjorie Mader tells about the mind-stretching array of exhibits on display at science fairs at Corte Madera and Ormondale schools in Portola Valley.
At Ormondale, Jose Hernandez created a tornado in a bottle.
Sixth-grade scientists Christopher Sauer and Jonathan Zidasiuk used a series of magnets to make a train move.
Corte Madera fifth-grader Emily Moreton designed a popular "try it yourself" pulley-power invention that kids used to try to lift themselves off the floor.
Parents and kids: Tell us about your science fair exhibit, either at the recent fairs in Portola Valley or at past fairs. Or about the most interesting projects you've seen at science fairs. Click on the "Add a comment" link below.
Here is the text of Marjorie's story:
Posted Jan. 30, 2007
Science explodes at Portola Valley schools
By Marjorie Mader
Almanac Staff Writer
Students at Corte Madera and Ormondale schools created their own "science exploratorium" with an amazing array of science exhibits and innovations on display last week at each school's science fair.
The exhibits at Corte Madera ranged from creating an "Underwater Volcano" to questioning "How Much do Hybrids Help" and using a series of magnets in "Making The Mag-Lev Train Move."
Students and their parents stood in line to try out popular hands-on projects such as "Pulley Power." They would sit on a swing seat and see if the impressive mechanical device with a pulley system could lift them up.
"My goal is to convince students that science is everywhere you are -- not just in a textbook," said Martin Sterns, a parent involved in the fairs at both schools.
"Overall, students learn that life is basically a set of problems to solve and projects to finish (or try to)," he said. "The hardest thing is to convince them is that often the best inventions end up as the result of many failures on the road to success."
During family nights at both schools and class visits to the display, students excitedly explained their exhibits and answered questions, demonstrating their knowledge.
Habitats" was the theme for the fair at Ormondale, the district's K-3 school. Students delved into areas such as native plants, animals and alternative energy.
All students at Ormondale had the opportunity to enter an exhibit. They could work at home with a friend or parent or come to the science room mornings where parents, with scientific know-how, volunteered to assist them with their project.
Neither science fair would have been possible without parent volunteers as fair monitors and a source of encouragement for the kids, said Mr. Sterns.
Science teachers Birgitta Brown and Treena Joie at Corte Madera were credited with doing an outstanding job in organizing the fair that was the best ever.
Corte Madera students selected to share their exhibits at the San Mateo County Science Fair are:
-- Fifth grade: Aaron Reiss, "Testing Concrete Properties"; Jessie Dalman, "Bacterial Growth: The Best Environment for it, and What Kills it Best"; Sophie Hulme, "Surface Tension."
-- Sixth grade: Charlotte Kohlberg, "Freezing Ice Cream to the Max"; Serena Houghton, "Oh My, What to Wear Today?" (textiles and temperatures); Christopher Sauer and Jonathan Zdasiuk, "Mag-Lev Train Part II; Making the Mag-Lev Train Move" (a continuation of prior years' work).
-- Seventh grade: Brooke Rothschild-Mancinelli, "Effect of Salt on the Boiling Temperature of Water at Different Altitudes"; Catherine Smith, "Run-Off Pollution"; Max Polkinhorne and Chris Waschura, "Wireless Mouse Charger," (a combination invention and scientific experiment comparing the optimal number of magnets and capacitor size to make a battery-free wireless mouse that the user shakes to generate electricity using magnets and coiled wire;' Joshua Godfrey, "Time Delay of the Eye."
-- Eighth grade: Wil Strober, "Acceleration by Magnetic Forces and New Propulsion System" and Geoffrey Lalonda, "Homopolar Motor Rotation Speeds as a Function of Changes in Electrical Power.
While Corte Madera was allotted to send only 12 exhibits to the county fair, science teacher Treena Joi said, "We consistently had a high caliber of student work on the campus. We foster the natural scientist and experimenter in all our students."