By ERIK SOKOLOWSKI
Since February, the students at Horace Mann Elementary School have been building their science acumen, in preparation for the school’s first annual science fair held recently.
“We had a larger turnout of visitors to the fair than we expected,” Chairperson Heather Denver said. “The projects were great, and we appreciate all the work the students did on their projects. Their effort was evident in their exhibits.”
“It was a great event,” Mann Principal Robert Sweeney said. “We have not had a science fair in good number of years. And it was a very good first year, and very successful. I foresee this becoming and ongoing program in the years to come.”
The event, not to be confused with Mann’s Science Day, was a no brainer for PTA parents.
“We began talking about it last year,” co-chair Ruth Cohen said. “We asked if there was a science fair, and were told no, but there had been one years ago. Heather and I looked at each other, and said, ‘the kids have to have a science fair.’”
“I can’t praise them (Denver and Cohen) enough, this wouldn’t have happened without their energy,” Sweeney said.
When official word went out, students quickly got to work on their particular scientific interest. With the help of school librarian Diane Oesau, who showed the students proper research techniques, and surely some nudging from parents, roughly 40 students from grades one through five got down to business.
“The students did all the work outside of school,” Cohen said. “They did this on their own time, and brought in some really impressive work.”
And it wouldn’t be a science fair without at least one erupting volcano, and the Horace Mann students went big with four lava-spewing goliaths. With various other displays including the effects of household cleaners on plants, and the long, slow journey of stalactites and stalagmites, students held demonstrations in several science categories such as geology, medicine and health, physics, engineering, earth science, chemistry and ecology.
“The kids were very impressive, they knew what they were talking about,” Sweeney said. “These projects were their ideas and their work, and they knew what they were talking about. It was very impressive.”
Some of the projects included a hovercraft, a robot, models of the heart and brain, and an entry entitled Making Concoctions, that was a true crowd pleaser — especially with the school-aged attendees.
Other topics covered included renewable energy, the effects of asthma on lungs, heat conduction, friction effects, weather apparatus and much more.
“It was an amazing thing,” Cohen said. “While parents helped, the kids were clearly the ones that did the work. One first grader did a project on the effects of asthma on the lungs and you could tell he, as well as the other students, was invested in the project, and did a lot of research. It was impressive, especially since it was extra curricular and on top of school work.”
Right on the heels of the Science Fair is Science Day at Horace Mann. This event, led and run by the school, teachers and PTA parents Melissa Scott and Allison Peters, is a full day of science related activities, with each grade level having grade-specific activities.