From greenhouse gasses to the motivations of hamsters, scientific studies and projects conducted by fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students at Lawrence Intermediate School were on display last Saturday (Feb. 12) at the school’s second annual Science and Inventions Fair.
This year students asked – and answered – tough questions like “What is Causing Global Warming?” They also explored more commonplace concerns like how to tell the difference between sugar and Splenda, and which beverages are the worst for teeth.
Kiran Aiyar, who with his partner Ritesh Dash won the first place prize for sixth grade, delved into the question of the effect temperature has on battery life.
“We chose it because we wanted to do something hands on,” Aiyar said. He said they discovered that heat actually extended the life of the batteries they tested.
Long after hearing his name announced for first place, Aiyar was still shocked. “It’s just crazy,” he said. He said he’d seen what other students had brought and believed that he was up against too much excellent competition to walk away with first place.
That competition included the sixth-grade team of Sanjana Inamdar and Mohim Chaupura – the third place prize winners – who studied plant growth. They used alternative fertilizers like biodiesel to see how plants would react.
“We were watching a documentary on the Science Channel on how restaurants use oil,” Chaupura said. They said they also tried things like tea leaves, mixed into the soil, but found that commercial potting soil worked the best.
Inamdar said when they heard their names called for third place, “We were like, ‘I did it.’” She said she also entered last year’s science fair but did not win.
“It was exciting because this was my first year,” Chaupura said. “I think it must run in my family,” he added, noting that his uncle won a science fair three years in a row when he was a child.
Inamdar and Chaupura said they plan to take their experiment to the Mercer County Science Fair, a much larger venue.
Fifth-grade honorable mention winners Saumyia and Shriya Shetty seemed to be hoping for more. Wining an award for their study on water density was “exciting,” Shriya said, but they had higher hopes for themselves.
The judges also had high expectations. Griff Humphreys, a parent who volunteered to judge the projects, said the kids were being scored on their understanding of the basic elements of the scientific process.
“I think there was a lot of interesting projects,” he said. “Very varied in their complexity. Many of them did a very good job.”
The kids weren’t the only ones showing their best at the fair. There were also a number of demonstrators on site, including high school students Bren Surendran, Johnny Lin and Toni Dzinic. They used a series of mirrors and other devices to teach the younger students about the ways that light can bend and be manipulated.
“We’re into fiber optics,” Dzinic said. “It was interesting to see how light acts as a wave.”
That interest is something they wanted to share with the younger students.
“It’s great to see kids think there’s magic behind this when there’s science behind everything,” Lin said.
Other demonstrators included local robotics company Robodyssey and New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program, both of whom seek to get children interested in science, conservation and learning.
Listed below are the science fair winners, as announced by the school district.
- First place: Jordan Lilly and Matthew McChesney - The Newton Car
- Second place: Maura Canavan - Toasty Tunes
- Third place: Tristan Curbishley - Tongue and Tastes
- Third place: Nolan Flynn - Lego and Ground Surface
- Honorable Mention: Charlotte Bohra - Sleep and Well-Being
- Honorable Mention: Alexandria Calderone - What’s Worse for Your Teeth
- First place: Harshal Nawade - Best Packaging Material
- Second place: Ethan Wild - Plant Guidance Systems
- Second place: Emily Mah - Oil vs. Water: Polarity
- Honorable Mention: Ryan Morris - Hang Time
- Honorable Mention: Saumya and Shriya Shetty - Phew! That was Some Workout
- First place: Kiran Aiyar and Ritesh Dash - Battery Life: Hot and Cold
- Second place: Rithvik Nair and Quincy Washington - Alka-Seltzer Dissolving Time
- Third place: Sanjana Inamdar and Mohin Chanpura - Morning Drinks & Plant Growth
- Honorable Mention: Hayley Davis and Kinsey Ratzman - Sugar vs. Splenda
- Honorable Mention: James Gow - Movement of Macrophages