PTA holds town-wide science fair

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Jan. 17, 2014
Patrick Chapman, a fifth-grader at Bowers, with his project on black holes. Photos by Corey AmEnde.
Patrick Chapman, a fifth-grader at Bowers, with his project on black holes. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

From black holes, to underwater fireworks, to cheetahs, cicadas and tree kangaroos, the halls of Illing Middle School were alive with science on Saturday, Jan. 11. These exhibits, along with many others, were part of the third annual town-wide science fair. The fair was sponsored by the town-wide Parent Teacher Association and was held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Illing Middle School. This was a voluntary opportunity for students in grades four through eight.

“This is very important for the kids to learn about science,” said Mayor Leo Diana. “More than just in the classroom, but science I think is lacking in our society today and anything that we can do to get kids more involved is a good idea.”

Students could enter their projects in three categories – experiments, invention and poster board, which was just researched-based.  Prizes were awarded to the top three students in each category for each grade level.

“We are just really excited about keeping the tradition of promoting science here in Manchester,” said Curtisea Anderson, the secretary of the town-wide PTA. “Every year we have more and more students signing up, so that’s really important, but we’d like to see it grow bigger and better because we recognize that science really, really is important for the education of our youth and especially for Manchester. We want to give our kids an edge.”

Bowers fifth-grader Patrick Chapman completed a project on black holes. “I’m studying black holes, so I attached a vacuum to a funnel and I put a hole in the [poster] board and I tested how quickly a mini-figure would be sucked into the black hole.” Chapman had tied small pieces of “space junk” onto strings so people could hold them in front of the black hole he created and see how quickly they were sucked into it.

Buckley Elementary School fourth-grader Teagan Ridel studied cheetahs for her project. “The first thing I think was interesting is that cheetahs can’t roar like lions or tigers, but they do growl or purr,” said Ridel. “And then they can’t climb trees because their claws are too little, so they don’t have enough big claws to grip onto trees.”

Tara Ridel, Teagan’s mom, said the experience of creating a science fair project has been “fantastic” for her daughter. “I think it’s important to get more of the sciences into their education, and she loves animals," she said. "Especially with it being town-wide, it offers a program that the schools can’t always do on their own, whether it’s budget cuts, or time or lack of space,” she added. 

Illing eighth-grader Lauren Diana presented her project called the “underwater firework,” which used food coloring to show the separation of oil and water. “It looks like a lava lamp,” said Diana. “They’re really easy, fun science experiments.”

Aureliana Brown, a fourth-grader at Buckley, completed her project on tree kangaroos. Brown said the marsupials live in cloud forests and are one of 9,000 endangered species. “Some species are just endangered and some species of the tree kangaroos are critically endangered, said Brown. She wrote a six-page paper to go along with her project. She said her favorite part of the whole process was learning about the tree kangaroos and “being able to make a hypothesis and trying to figure out if my hypothesis worked.”

Winthrop Ford, an instructor with Manchester Community College’s Excursions in Learning, presented a display on cicada’s, especially interesting after the huge emergence of millions in the 17-year cicada event this past summer. “The most exciting thing this past summer is that we discovered a new species of cicada in Meriden,” said Ford. “It is the only place in the entire world where this cicada exists, so we were like kids – it was so exciting for us.”

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