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Science fairs let students explore new interests

Regional fair scheduled for March 17

LANSING, Ill. (February 28, 2018) – Students from all over Lansing came together for the area science fair on February 24. Participants ranging in age from Kindergarten to 8th grade competed in various subjects such as Chemistry, Biology, and Botany.

After the district fair on February 3, projects that were rated “outstanding” and some of the first-place projects moved on to the area fair. This science fair, in its 59th year, is the only area fair in the state of Illinois.

Choosing to learn

“[The projects] have evolved to things that I never, as a student, would have thought about, and even as a teacher,” said Dr. Kim Morley-Hogan, principal of Lester Crawl Primary Center. “They’re great.”

Alison Schroeder teaches 7th-grade science and is the department’s head at Memorial Junior High School. She has been a teacher at Memorial for 12 years and has served as the head for 3 years.

“I like that the kids can choose what they want to learn and explore,” Schroeder said. “Usually, in a classroom, we have a set curriculum of things to teach them. The science fair allows them to go outside the normal box of curriculum. They get to choose whatever they have a passion in, and they get to explore it and experiment with it.”

Learning to explore

For seasoned science fair participant Korey Ziemkowski, an 8th grade student at Memorial, the annual event is a fun way to explore scientific interests.

“This [project] was the best one I’ve done,” Ziemkowski said. “I like plants, so it was interesting to me. I looked for a long time for a topic that interested me.” Her experiment, which involved the effects of UV light versus natural sunlight on plants, landed her a spot in the area fair. Ziemkowski has been participating in the science fair since 5th grade.

“[The science fair] is important because you learn a lot from it,” Ziemkowski said. “You know how to handle an experiment because you know the steps of it; you know how to organize a lab report and the different parts of a paper that you will need in college and high school.”

science fair
Kindergartener Cherish Deese is dressed for science success. (Photo: Alison Schroeder)

Exploring together

Cherish Deese, a Kindergarten student at Reavis Elementary School, got an early start with science fair projects. With the assistance of her mother, Jonece Allen, she experimented with making her own lava lamp out of oil and water.

“It was fun,” Cherish said. “I did it all by myself.”

science fair
Mayor Patty Eidam (center) and Trustee Brian Hardy served as judges at the science fair. (Photo: Alison Schroeder)

Not only is the science fair a good learning experience for participants, it also better connects the parents and the community to local schools. “The science fair allows students to showcase their hard work as students,” Schroeder said. “A lot of times, parents aren’t able to see everything [the students] are doing in a classroom, and this gives parents and the community members a chance to come out and see what we’re doing with our kids.”

Best of Fair

Nine students won Best of Fair at the area science fair. In alphabetical order, they are:

  1. Javier Alcantar (8th grade, Memorial), with the Consumer Science project “What effect to beverages have on blind spots?”
  2. Annika Biegel (6th grade, Memorial), with the Consumer Science project “Which candle burns the slowest: white or colored?”
  3. Anieya Carter (7th grade, Memorial), with the Behavioral Science project “The power of persuasion”
  4. Austin Hewes (7th grade, Memorial), with the Chemistry project “Does changing the type of metal affect how long it takes to corrode?”
  5. Drew Losnedahl (2nd grade, Oak Glen), with the Botany project “Aquaponics: Something fishy is going on”
  6. Mia Moore (7th grade, Memorial), with the Physics project “What effect does the type of glue have on the strength of a bridge?”
  7. Caleb Rozendal (7th grade, Lansing Christian), with the Behavioral Science project “Does color affect memory?”
  8. Esmeralda Spencer (5th grade, Coolidge), with the Chemistry project “What’s the best method to wash your hands?”
  9. Angel Urquizo (6th grade, Memorial), with the Biology project “How do mummification practices affect organic material?”

Going to regionals

The following students will advance to the regional science fair, which will take place on March 17 at Metea Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois:

  • Roberto Caballero (8th grade), with the Astronomy project “Can you hear sound in space?”
  • Chyna Derrick (8th grade), with the Health Science project “Does smell affect taste?”
  • Austin Hewes (7th grade), with the Chemistry project “Does changing the type of metal affect how long it takes to corrode?”
  • Brianna Hill (7th grade), with the Chemistry project “What effect does different types of water have on crystal growth?”
  • Craig Morrison (7th grade), with the Behavioral Science project “Do athletes have greater lung capacity than non-athletes?”
  • Korey Ziemkowski (8th grade), with the Botany project “Does an ultraviolet light system work better than natural light when growing plants indoors?”
Katie Arvia
Katie Arvia
Katie is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. In 2015, she graduated with high honors from Saint Xavier University in Chicago with a BA in English, and she plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. Her favorite Lansing Journal assignments include coverage of TF South High School's walkout ("Demonstrating the possibilities") and her St. Patrick's Day interview with her grandma ("St. Patrick's Day traditions: reflections of an Irish granddaughter").
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