Real science?

Elementary school students show off their projects at science fair

More than 200 students competed at the district science fair at Liberty Science Center
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More than 200 students competed at the district science fair at Liberty Science Center

Vinaya Patel, a 5th grader from PS No. 16, was sitting in her father’s car listening to music when she became aware of her heart beating faster.

“It seemed to be beating to the beat of the music,” she said.

This gave her the idea for her science project on display at the Dec. 17 Jersey City District Science Fair at Liberty Science Center.

Patel decided to test people with different music and to see if people’s heart rates changed or stayed the same. Her research revealed that classical music tended to lower people’s heart rates, baroque increased the rate, and while listening to contemporary music people’s heart rates appeared to remain unchanged.

“Contemporary music tends to use middle tempos,” said Patel, attributing the result to the music’s affect on a part of the brain that influences the heart rate.

Astrid Guerrero, a 5th grader, from PS No. 17, overheard her mother and sister arguing over the effect of bacteria on milk in and out of the refrigerator. Her mother argued that milk left out develops more bacteria. Her sister said otherwise.

Guerrero, who has aspirations to become a lawyer some day, set out to see if her sister was wrong.

By testing a number of liquids, and monitoring the potential growth of bacteria in and out of the refrigerator over a period of time, she proved that milk left out does attract bacteria at a more rapid rate than if kept refrigerated.

When asked how she believed a project of this kind might help with her future to potential to become a lawyer, Guerrero said, “This taught me how to look at all alternatives.”

Isabel Hernandez, a 5th grader, at PS No. 17, said her experiment came out of a memory of when she saw people putting out salt on sidewalks to melt snow.

“At the time I wondered why they were doing that and whether it melted snow faster than other things,” she said.

In her experiment, she used salt, sand, sugar and other ingredients, and using a timer, tested each on an ice cube in a bowl inside her refrigerator.

“Salt made the most impact on the ice,” she said.

“The work keeps getting more creative.” — Manisha Shah

Zainuddin, of PS. 17, was making jokes in class and making people laugh.

“Then I started to think about what makes people laugh,” he said

He selected several subjects and began to experiment. Unfortunately, jokes didn’t make people laugh as much as he wanted, so he started acting out and dancing in funny ways.

He said he learned that different approaches to humor affect different parts of the brain, jokes one part, visual stimuli another, and that laughter is a response to these parts being stimulated.

“We laugh in response to something,” he said, noting that he intends to be a comic, singer, or actor someday.

Hard to achieve liftoff

Isyah Haynes, 8th grader, PS. 15, wanted to build a working helicopter because he’d never seen anyone at these fairs build one before.

“I’ve seen them build cars and planes, but not helicopters,” he said.

Using popsicle sticks for blades and other items for the body, the engine proved the most challenging, partly because of the power source he needed.

“I tried C-batteries, but they didn’t work,” he said. “The 9-volt battery made the blades go, but it made the helicopter too heavy to get off the ground.”

But he’s not discouraged. He said he intends to keep on trying until he finds a way to make his helicopter fly.

Teaching them to think in the real world

Although there will be a larger science fair held at the Liberty Science Center early in 2019, this event for grades 5 to 8 is designed to showcase the talents of students from all of the public elementary schools in Jersey City, said Albert Padilla, K to 8 science supervisor for the district.

Competition starts at each school with the winning projects sent here to compete against other elementary schools. More than 200 students were involved in the district fair.

“The work keeps getting more creative,” said Manisha Shah, 6 to 12 science specialists.

Padilla said these fairs are designed to help kids with critical thinking and problem solving that can be applied to real life situations.

Some of these kids continue to work on these projects, perfecting them and displaying them later when they are in higher grades.

Several school board members toured the event, getting a glimpse of what was taking place in the schools.

School Board member Mussab Ali, who was involved in some of these while in school, said this was an opportunity to have good experiences that will help them when they go to higher levels of education.

Board Member Matt Shapiro said he was very impressed, but also credited the administration and teachers, who help foster the environment that allows students to create.

To comment on this story on-line, go to our website, www.hudsonreporter.com. Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com