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The appliance of science

June 09, 2006|By Tracey Laity

Fourth-grade science students at Paradise Canyon Elementary School took a walk on the wild side when they displayed the results of their science projects to fellow classmates and parents on Friday afternoon.

Each of the weird and wonderful projects had a distinct flavor of their own and ranged from finding out which type of popcorn popped the most kernels to which soft drink helped marigolds to grow the tallest.

Robert Hajek, fourth-grade science teacher, said the students had been limited by only their own imaginations when it came to developing a scientific hypothesis, identifying and controlling variables, conducting an experiment and then presenting their results at the school's Science Museum Walk.

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"The results really have been phenomenal," said Hajek, who added that the school holds three museum walks each year.

"We teach the kids about scientific methodology and then they put into practice all the things they have learned in their own project. The project took them about a month to complete and most of the work was actually done by the kids at home," he said.

The parents who attended the event on Friday afternoon were full of praise for the ingenuity of the budding scientists and appreciated the opportunity to help their children put their projects together.

"I think it's a great idea," said John Herkert. "It really brings home the principles they learn at school, which is very important, and I personally enjoyed helping my young daughter, Leah, put her ideas into practice."

The students were motivated, too, parents said.

"It's wonderful to see all these children and their great ideas," said Sue Perry. "My daughter Courtney is so excited by her project. I think all the kids have been looking forward to this day. It's the most fun they've had so far."

Courtney's experiment was to see whether a mouse would run faster through a maze, the more times it was put through it.

But surprisingly, the mouse did not improve its time; in fact, it always stopped for a rest in exactly the same corner, she said.

But her friend, who did the same experiment on a guinea pig, had better luck.

The guinea pig went through the maze faster each time it did it.

Another intrepid fourth-grader, Garret Chin, tested the effect of various citrus fruits, such as grapefruits, oranges, lemons, tangerines and limes, on the browning of a cut apple and found that although lemons and limes both kept the apple fresh for up to an hour, lemons won out in the last 30 minutes of the carefully timed experiment.

Sharon Na proved that marigolds grew the most when they watered with Snapple, as opposed to other soft drinks such as Diet Coke and Gatorade, and Caroline Raney found, to her delight, that buttered flavored popcorn popped the most kernels.

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