From volcanoes to asphalt to the food preferences of dogs and humans, Oregon Elementary students definitely have done their homework.
A record 142 students in grades K-6 researched and presented more than 120 projects March 15 at the annual Science Fair March 15 held at the Blackhawk Center. Teacher Pam Steele, who organizes the event, was enthusiastic.
"It's absolutely the biggest one we've ever had. It's fantastic," she said Saturday. "More of the younger kids are participating this year. We have 50 in grades K-3."
Fifth grader Ella Martin explained her very timely project — "What's the Bump in the Road" — to judges Emily Corbin and Jordan Mingus, both Oregon High School students.
In her display, Ella showed three "pucks" of asphalt that she used to determine how cold temperatures and the freeze-thaw cycle affect the road-paving material.
She used one puck — a round molded piece of asphalt about two inches thick — as a control for her research, leaving it at room temperature.
The second puck went into the freezer once for an extended period of time, while the third went in and out of the freezer for several short periods of time.
The third puck showed the most breakage.
"I learned that freeze thaw elements do affect asphalt — hence the bumps [in the roads]," Ella said.
Students were required to have a display and written explanation of their projects. The written portion had to include their hypothesis, their procedures, and their results.
Before the fair was open to the public, each project was evaluated by high school students who served as judges.
Across the room, fifth graders Taylor Sheely and Sydney Harms had discovered that Sydney's dog
Henry apparently has a hankering for blueberries.
In their project "Beggers Being Choosers," the two gave a hungry Henry a choice of 10 foods including things like blueberry muffins, blueberry yogurt, ham and cheese, carrots, and of course, dog food and treats.
Henry's top choice was the blueberry muffins, followed by ham and cheese, and blueberry yogurt.
The girls were a little surprised at their results.
"We thought the ham and cheese would be his favorite," Sydney said.
Henry, by the way, turned up his nose at his vegetables, totally bypassing the carrots.
In "The Amazing M&M Survey," fourth graders Allison Sheely and Faith Morquardt studied the candy preferences of their classmates and teachers, specifically which flavor of M&Ms they like best.
Mint proved to be a top choice, but the girls also learned how to do a survey.
They put questionnaires for teachers in their mailboxes at school and asked classmates to fill out a questionnaire and drop it in a box in the classroom.
They found that the drop box got the most replies.
"We learned what kind of surveys work better," Allison said.
"Not all of the teachers gave their surveys back because they didn't know what to do," Faith explained. Meanwhile, Paige Beauchem's project was fizzing for her judge.
The fourth grader had created a volcano that erupted thanks to the combination of baking soda and white vinegar poured down its crater.
"I learned how volcanoes erupt and how baking soda and vinegar volcanoes erupt," Paige said with a smile. "It was actually pretty fun."