By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Forty-six students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Palisades Charter Elementary School participated in a two-day virtual science fair, sharing a range of projects from how many hearts an octopus has to if classical music calms dogs down.
The afternoon of March 19 and morning of March 20 were split into several time slots, allowing groups from each grade to share their projects via Zoom and respond to questions from judges, who were scientists and doctors from the Pali Elementary parent community.
“The past year has demonstrated just how important science is to our lives,” Science Fair Committee member and Pali Elementary mom Marisa Rood shared with the Palisadian-Post about why the school decided to pursue a virtual iteration of the annual science fair. “Tens of thousands of scientists from around the world have been working to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and each of them started as a curious child. We are hoping to plant the seed of science at Pali by encouraging participation.”
Participation in the fair, which was open to all students at the school, was voluntary, and “meant to be fun and inspire interest in science,” Rood added. In addition to Rood, this year’s Science Fair Committee also included Kshama Mehra and Lauren Miura, who took turns emceeing the event.
“It was important to me to host a science fair for several reasons,” Pali Elementary Principal Juliet Herman explained. “The first one is to provide our students and parents a sense of continuity. We have hosted science fairs in the past, and it was important to me to continue that sense of normalcy as much as possible. Additionally, we wanted to provide our school as much community building as possible. And lastly, given this pandemic, science is more important than ever.”
Students had roughly three minutes to share their projects, using a combination of video, slideshows and poster boards to detail their work.
On Friday afternoon, Greysen Nedelkovski presented a project on how sharks float, a topic the student said they picked because they want to protect sharks.
“I’m happy you can tie in that passion you have for ocean animals,” judge Dr. Belinda Ko shared.
Another student, Ella Ambats-Greenop, presented a project on “Bugs: Cool or Gross?”—comparing responses she received from kids and adults. Her hypothesis was that “more kids than adults think bugs are cool.”
Dominic Longo and Haakon Knapp, who shared they like to play tennis together, teamed up to find out “Does the Temperature of a Tennis Ball Affect How High it Goes?”
“In the experiment, we determined that the temperature of the tennis ball does affect how high it goes,” according to a results slide. “The colder the ball, the less bounce it has. The hotter the tennis ball, the higher it goes.”
Each student who participated will receive a ribbon, with fifth-graders—judged by Anna Hsu, Renee Dua and Gelareh Gabayan—taking home prizes for first, second and third place.
First place went to Shane Fox, whose topic was “Can a Lemon Generate Electricity?” Sophia Harelik, covering “Which Exercise Elevates Heart Rate the Most?” was awarded second place, and Dylan Holyoak earned third place for “Through the Looking Glass: the Mind of Cats.”
Herman shared that she was “so impressed with the students’ projects and how they were able to manage their presentations virtually.” She said she felt the students were “so creative and enthusiastic,” and that it was “wonderful to see them get excited about their scientific pursuits.”
“We have received a lot of positive feedback and are really happy with the way the event panned out,” Rood shared after the fair wrapped. “We were very inspired by the student scientists who found the time to participate during this very challenging year.”
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