Thrills, spills at West Science Fair

       With exhibits from most of its 400-some students, West Middle School's Science Fair resulted in a packed gymnasium Nov. 27. All over the gym, students were proudly showing their parents or family members what they'd done, or even in some cases reveling in having placed among the top six in their class. At the West Science Fair Nov. 27... Students try out the cornstarch exhibit, provided by Cool Science. According to 
Ben Schleifer of the non-profit foundation, cornstarch is so tough it’s being considered for bulletproofing.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Even an oopsie in which a fish tank - part of an experiment involving a bowling ball (don't ask) - sprung a leak and briefly flooded a corner of the gym with several gallons of water did not dampen the enthusiasm.
       Adding to the fun were tables by the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park and the local Cool Science foundation, whose interactive cornstarch tub created many a gooey arm up to the elbows.
       “It's a great community event,” said West science chair Kathy Malone. “So few schools are doing them anymore.”
       Clay Gomez, in his first year as West's principal, said this is also his first school that's had a science fair. Seeing it happen, “I think this is sensational,” he said.
       Malone listed a couple of main reasons why such fairs have become more rare. More time goes into classwork preparing for standardized testing. Plus preparing for such events requires “a lot of work on the part of science teachers,” she said.
       This is the third year West has held the fair as an all-school endeavor. Before that, it had been an activity just for the SAIL (gifted and talented) program at West, Malone said. She decided to make it part of the curriculum in the belief that creating exhibits for a science fair and in the process trying to solve a real scientific problem represent “an authentic part of the educational process.” she said. For students, “the key is to find something they're interested in.”
       Below are the winning students in each grade, along with the names of their projects:
       6th grade
       1st Place: Tania Stoecker - “Oil Absorption”
       2nd Place: Rob Newell - “Homemade Backpacking Stoves”
       3rd Place: Tristan Gibson - “Amphibian vs. Reptile”
       4th Place: Max Broman - “Extraction of DNA From Fruit”
       5th Place: Logan Taylor - “Great Balls of Fire”
       6th Place: Jacob Carson - “Parachutes with Holes”
       7th Grade
       1st Place: Ella Livesay - “Which Octane Level?”
       2nd Place: Heather Wooley: “Heat Retention Qualities of Turbid Water and Its Effect on Evaporation”
       3rd Place: Jessica Padilla - “Growing Penicillium”
       4th Place: Joshua Munson - “Solar Charging”
       5th Place: Hannah McCullough - “Hot Gems”
       6th Place: Tony Plebani - “Do Different Wavelengths affect Plant Growth?”
       8th Grade
       1st Place: Delaney Ciborowski - “Cattails Against the Cold”
       2nd Place: Beth Luke - “Natural Filters and pH”
       3rd Place: Hannah Gustafson - “Color My World”
       4th Place: Victor Leal - “Viscosity”
       5th Place: Brittany Ganaway - Self Inflating Balloon”
       6th Place: Thomas Price - “Do You See What I See: Are Dogs Color Blind?”

Westside Pioneer article