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Science Fair

went to the annual science fair last week. This year I also judged, so I got a close look at the five projects that wanted to be judged and go on to regionals. This was five out of about 80 or so. All science AP students were required to do a project, though they could choose to work with partners.

Because school let out early because of I WON'T EVEN SAY WHAT at this point, I only had barely enough time to judge those five, and didn't even get to look much at everyone else's, including my students'. Afterwards, I made them tell their respective classes about the projects, since they didn't get nearly enough recognition, and need to be encouraged even if the projects are trite.

Out of the projects I saw, the best was quite good, well-designed, well-researched, well-implemented and well-written. They looked at dye-sensitized solar cells, but instead of using the expensive industry standards, used different fruit juices, to see if they could make a cheap alternative. They may do fairly well at the regionals. There was an obvious fault in their study, but they figured it out, took a lot of notes from the judges, and will be able to explain the error as a topic for future research. Quite scientific minds.

Another picked a somewhat boring topic, but did it well, applied the scientific method perfectly, and got strong consistent results. I think she looked at cleaning ability of a "green" cleaner vs a regular one. She is a model student, and it was obvious she had not much interest in finding a unique topic, but wanted to do something that would be easy to study and is a "hot" issue.

Another couple projects were kinda lame, not following the scientific method very closely and with poor controls and very shallow understanding of the results.

And then there were the drunken spiders. Titled, "The effects of alcohol on spider behavior" they bought some spiders, stuck them in two clear plastic boxes, and gave them flies, having sprayed one box' flies with Keystone Light. They then looked at how the spiders' webs were spun, "good" or "bad", more or less, and couldn't agree if the chart showed the number of dead spiders in each box or the number of live ones. It also didn't occur to them that counting the total number of webs when the number of spiders became different in each box did not lead to correct conclusions. There were so many things wrong, my fingers would get tired listing them.

I believe there were a lot of great projects that didn't want to be judged, because the regionals would require more work, and are close to AP test time, the week before, in fact, so who could blame them?



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2011 03:23 am (UTC)
А ты мне не подскажешь какой-нибудь хороший проект для science fair для Сашки?
Feb. 6th, 2011 04:53 am (UTC)
Kindergarten Science Fair? Tee hee.

Since I think you've had enough adventures, how about putting some celery into a glass with red or blue food coloring and watching it change color?
Feb. 6th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
please tell me the drunken spider students all got a+, please, please, please.
Feb. 6th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC)
Have seen more forethought and logic from my kindergartener.
Feb. 6th, 2011 04:58 am (UTC)
Yes, the choice of alcohol is questionable.
Feb. 6th, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
Drunken spiders reminded me a MythBusters epizod about vodka bee killer once.

MythBusters filled clear box with bees and sprayed vodka few times.
The second clear box with bees was sprayed with water, also few times
Water bees looked dead, but mythbusters used a hairdryer to dry off the water bees and as bees dried off they started moving again.
All but two of the water bees survived.
All of the vodka bees survived
They haven't even looked dead

Feb. 6th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
Were these Russian bees? ;-)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )