The gymnasium at St. Mary of the Lakes School was packed, as hundreds of students displayed their science projects at a recent science fair.
Kim Martin, mother of an eighth-grade student — and the science fair’s coordinator — said she did a lot of advertising about the event to drum up attendance and participation.
“This school has so much science potential,” Martin said, noting 101 kids signed up for science club this year. About 300 kids with around 180 projects took part in this year’s fair.
Martin said they were “bursting” out of the auditorium last year, a key reason why the fair was held in the gymnasium this year.
“It’s certainly wonderful,” she said. “I think the science fair is a huge opportunity for kids to do something outside of the box, outside of school.”
Martin added that the fair is unique in that it’s not a competitive event. Everybody gets a ribbon for participating — and no one worries about winning.
Also, participation in the fair is not mandated.
“They’re excited about it because it’s a social event … it’s an opportunity to do what they want to do and there’s no pressure,” Martin said.
“The kids have just been awesome. They want upper-level science, they want to dig into things.”
Martin’s son’s project was the physics of surfing. He was able to apply what he learned in the classroom to an activity he enjoys.
Bill Martin, Kim’s son, explained why he studied the physics of surfing.
“I decided to do it because it’s what I’m interested in,” the Medford resident said. “Science should be fun.”
Bill said he spent two weeks working on his project.
“I just love the feeling when you’re going down a wave and you can’t hear anything else. It’s just you, your board and the water — and just the sheer power of it,” the eighth-grader said. “There’s nothing like it in the world.”
Annemarie Tatum, a room mom for son’s kindergarten class, is also the mother of Avery, who is in second-grade.
“It’s eye opening,” the Tabernacle resident said, noting every year, students begin thinking about next year’s project.
Avery’s project was chemical reactions, mixing baking soda and vinegar.
“She loved it,” Annemarie said. “Avery did the project with another second-grader. They had so much fun.”
“I like it because it’s a reaction and it explodes,” Avery said.
Sarah Thomas, 13, a Shamong resident, wanted to discover how chocolate, her favorite food, is made.
“I learned it’s a complicated process and it’s a lot more than you would think,” Thomas said.
She said the fair teaches students how to research.
“I like experimenting,” Thomas said, noting next year, she will do a project on electricity.
Beth Anne Lambrechts, of Medford, is also a parent and chairwoman of media relations for the school.
“It’s amazing,” Lambrechts said, noting this is her first year she’s seen the fair. “I’m overwhelmed by the response this year.”
Her son, Zach, is in fourth-grade and her daughter, Mary, is in second-grade.
Lambrechts said her daughter was not interested in science until she participated in the fair. Her son’s project was on pressure inside a basketball.
“They actually did research which, for a second-grader, is amazing,” she said.
Lambrechts said the kids are really into the fair and talk about their projects with other students at school.
“It develops their love of science,” she said. “It’s a real boost to the kids to be able to do something like this.”