Budding scientists showcase puzzling projects

Students from Stettler Elementary School’s Grade 5 Science Club gathered in the entrance foyer and adjacent hallways last Friday

POP QUIZ — Popcorn lovers Emma Werbowesky (left) and Elisa Collard decided to take their love of the snack food and apply science during the Grade 5 science fair at Stettler Elementary School. The two tested several different types of microwave popcorn to find out which popped the best.

POP QUIZ — Popcorn lovers Emma Werbowesky (left) and Elisa Collard decided to take their love of the snack food and apply science during the Grade 5 science fair at Stettler Elementary School. The two tested several different types of microwave popcorn to find out which popped the best.

Students from Stettler Elementary School’s Grade 5 Science Club gathered in the entrance foyer and adjacent hallways last Friday to put their hard work on display for the annual science fair.

Twenty-eight projects were completed by almost 50 students, science club teacher Rob Howell said.

Some students worked on their projects individually while others teamed up with a friend to complete the task.

Students had to develop their science project idea and complete it, starting with a hypothesis, or theory, about what would happen with their experiments. Then, they created and conducted experiments to try to prove the hypothesis, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.

Ten-year-olds Jaden Norman and Chloe Strohschein decided to experiment to determine what type of water worked best on plants, and named their project H20 Effects.

The girls grew bean sprouts from seed over a series of days, keeping them in identical conditions except for the type of water used to water them. Plants were watered every three days with one-fourth cup of water during a period of five weeks.

“Our students are both gardeners,” Norman said. “We were interested in plants and wanted to see how different types of water would affect them.”

The girls used six different types of water — distilled, tap, microwaved well, reverse osmosis, melted snow and well. Snow was melted in a pot over the stove. The melted snow and microwaved water were let cool to room temperature before being given to the plants.

Each plant showed different levels of growth, some becoming big, some remaining small, and others growing different sized beans.

Going solo, Nicholas Deaver, 11, decided to find out if people would prefer commercial sports drinks over homemade ones. The homemade drinks were made from recipes found on the Internet, and similar in caloric value.

Students and adults were given a blind taste test — they didn’t know what types of drinks were in each cup — and were asked after tasting to rate the drinks.

Both the student and adult groups preferred Powerade over all, and the homemade sports drinks came in last of the four available options.

“It took two months to do the tests and create the display,” Deaver said.

Other projects included determining which brand of salt/ice melt solution melts ice the fastest (Landscaper’s Choice), what type of bread grows mold the fastest (whole wheat), whether chewing gum makes a person smarter (yes, for a brief period of time), among others.

Popcorn aficionados Emma Werbowesky and Elisa Collard, both 10 years old, decided to find out what brand of microwave popcorn delivered the most pop for a buck. Their project was named, “Who wants popcorn?”

Though the girls expected the Orville Redenbacher popcorn to produce the best amount of popcorn, both girls were “surprised” when it didn’t.

“We thought Orville would do the best because of the name and the cost,” Werbowesky said.

In fact, it turned out the best value popcorn from Wal-Mart popped the best out of the several brands tested.

“We like popcorn and we needed a project,” Werbowesky said. “We thought it’d be original.”

Nine projects from the fair were chosen to move on to the Central Alberta regional science fair April 11 and 12 in Red Deer.

Since the science fair category is for Grade 5 students, that’s as far as the competition goes, but they’ll compete against the best Grade 5 and 6 projects from the region.

Faith Shuckburgh’s Five seconds to a stomach ache came in first, while Norman and Strohschein’s H20 Effects came in second. Deaver placed third and Who Wants Popcorn? came in fourth.

Shay Anderson and Reece Kranzler’s “Machines versus sports” took fifth place, and Kyla Johnson and Carly Jones placed six with their “Melting Ice” project.

Finishing seventh was Cassidy UnKauf and Hanna Moon with their project, Stormy Tsunamis, while Katie Satre and Rylee Frank’s project, Cool Mint, placed eighth.

Rounding out the winners were Hailie Ripley and Janna Vowles with their project “Brawny Bridges.”

Science club members completed the projects during a three-month period.