Hayden blinded by science

School fair takes over middle school hallways and rooms

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Victoria Muhme, a sixth-grader at Hayden Middle School, shows off her science fair project about various tooth decay prevention methods at Hayden Middle School on Tuesday.

— This winter, the pipes under Errol Ormesher's house burst, leaving his family with a problem and the Hayden sixth-grader with a question.

"I wanted to know what pipes would do better for certain things," Errol said.

Voila. Errol found his science fair project.

By using the scientific method, which the Colorado Department of Education requires sixth-grade students to know by the end of their school year, Errol discovered water is the only liquid that freezes, and all liquids with water as an ingredient, such as Kool-Aid or lemonade, also freeze in pipes.

Errol discovered pipes made of steel stand up better than pipes made from less expensive material.

"Plastic PVC pipes will burst if you give it a certain amount of time," Errol said.

He also researched the origin of pipes - China - and various less obvious materials people use to construct pipes.

"I didn't know there were pipes like concrete," Errol said. "I also found out that people make pipes out of dirt and mud."

Hayden Middle School and the freshmen at Hayden High School are holding their annual science fair this week. The projects are on display in the halls and rooms of Hayden Middle School and will be on display through parent-teacher conferences today.

Judging for the middle school projects was Tuesday, and it was the first experience Hayden's sixth-graders had with an outside judge. Last year, as fifth-graders, the students made projects for a teacher's critique.

"I was like, 'I better do well,'" said sixth-grader Kayla Dunckley.

Kayla wanted to know if people performed tasks better while listening to music. She gave classmates timed math tests. One time was with music and another time was without music.

"I thought people who listened to AC/DC wouldn't do as well," Kayla said.

She discovered one variable during her experiment that she did not anticipate - everyone selecting a different song to listen to while taking the math test - but she accurately reflected that in her presentation.

What Kayla discovered was interesting, she said.

With the exception of one student, "I learned that people do better without music," she said.

Asking a question, developing a hypothesis, conducting an experiment and drawing a conclusion are steps in the scientific method used by the most experienced scientists or the youngest of science students.

Hayden Middle School teacher Robin Bush said conducting an experiment and communicating and evaluating the results and process is important for sixth-graders to learn and understand. Science fairs are not necessarily an easy way to teach the process, but they are effective.

"We are really trying to get the kids to know how to conduct an experiment and present information in an organized way," Bush said. "That's real life."

Much of the work done by the sixth-graders is completed in class, so students can use classmates for experiments and can have teacher help if necessary. The boards go home for final touches, but the idea is to have the children do as much of the work as possible, Bush added.

The science fair projects vary in complexity between the grades. The freshmen projects require an oral presentation, so judging is still ongoing for the high school projects.

Middle school awards were handed out for first through sixth places, and businesses in town also stepped up to award special prizes.

- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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