West Science Fair asks tough questions

       “Question: Does fungi grow faster on bread with ketchup or mustard?” (Answer: Neither). West student Alex Killian gives a young citizen a push to get
started on his homemade hovercraft at the West Science
Fair Nov. 30. Note how the device is connected to a power
vacuum for the needed air.
Westside Pioneer photo
       “Question: Can a lemon produce electricity?” (Answer: Yes - a chemical reaction can occur between the acid in the lemon and zinc/copper contacts.)
       Young scientists from all three grades at West Middle School filled the gym with the results of dozens of science-related questions, hypotheses, research and conclusions at the school's science fair Nov. 30.
       The fair, to which the public was invited, was spiced by booths/activities offered by Colorado College's “Cool Science” program, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Bear Creek Nature Center. The entries were judged by teachers. Originally, Kathy Malone, chair of West's Science Department, had lined up eight outside institutions/ businesses, including judging by Air Force cadets, but snowy weather Nov. 29 forced a one-day fair postponement, and five of those entities could not adjust their schedules in time.
       Still, Malone was pleased with how it went. Bringing in outside professionals and top college students was part of a teaching effort to put the West kids in contact with people accustomed to applying science principles. “Being exposed to different disciplines expands their knowledge of what's out there,” she said.
       The fair was bigger than in recent years because all grades were involved instead of just the sixth grade. The other science teachers “wanted to be involved” as well this year, she said.
       Judged to have the top experiments in each of the grade levels were:
  • Sixth - Claire Harris.
  • Seventh - Delaney Ciborowski.
  • Eighth - Sophie DeArment.
           A popular interactive experiment was Alex Killian's hovercraft, which people were invited to try out. Pumped with air from a nearby shop vacuum, the small, circular homemade craft (including a peanut can cover and shower curtain as materials) gave riders about a 10-foot taste of travel without wheels. His experiment had not been to see whether the device would work, but whether carrying greater weight would slow its speed. Answer: It does.

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