St. Michael’s hosts first science fair since pandemic

St. Michael’s School held its first science fair since 2019 on Friday. Teacher Laura Hoffman has been the organizer of the fair for more than 20 years and, after 40 years, is retiring this year.

“I couldn’t imagine not finishing up without doing a science fair. The kids love it and it’s a great way for them to interact. The judges are all people with a science background. Engineers, agrologists, instrumentation people and lots of former teachers. Everybody has an interest in science and they are passing on that passion to the kids.”

Each student created a project that reflects their interests. They had to use the scientific procedure of problem, hypothesis, materials, procedure, investigation and conclusions. The students then created a display based on their research.

Asher Melanson’s project was Humpty Dumpty Takes a Flight.

“I chose this experiment because I’m using an egg to test it and I thought this would be cool because the egg is called Humpty Dumpty.”

His problem was choosing a design of parachute – paper, plastic or cloth – that would float an egg to the ground without cracking it, hypothesizing the cloth one would be the most successful. For the basket of the parachute, he used a cupcake holder. He did two trials, one with the egg sitting in the basket and another with the egg taped into the basket.

“My conclusion is this experiment cannot tell us which parachute design is better. All three materials have the same outcome. None of them kept the egg without cracks. Without tape the eggs splattered and with tape the egg would crack but not splatter.”

Melanson’s suggested reasons for the experiment failing were that not enough strings were used to attach the basket to the parachute, the parachute might have been too big, and the distance from the ground the parachute was dropped from could have been too short to allow air into the parachute.

Quinn Wirachowsky’s experiment was about reflexes.

“My hypothesis was I thought girls would have the better reflexes because my mom showed it to me and she did amazing on it.”

She chose 10 Grade 5 students, five boys and five girls who had to stand facing her with their hands held out. Wirachowsky would drop a ruler between their hands and her subjects had to catch it.

Two trials were conducted and Wirachowsky noticed everyone improved on the second trial. Overall, boys ended up having the better reflexes in the age group she tested.

Following Wirachowsky’s presentation, judge Nancy Boutilier praised Quinn’s use of using two trials and following the scientific procedure. She also asked a few questions, including what the controls were, if she understood the scientific procedure and why it is important, if she proved her hypothesis, and how she would improve the experiment if she was going to do it again.

Boutilier is a retired agrologist and has been judging the science fair for as many years as it’s been running.

“She (Hoffman) does such a wonderful job working with these kids.”

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News