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Fair allows students to test grasp of scientific method

May 01, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER
  • Carla Bender of Chambersburg, Pa., and her son, Jarrett, 6, explore the more than 380 displays Saturday at the Franklin Science and Technology Fair at Chambersburg Area Middle School.
Kate S. Alexander, Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Students across Franklin County put everything from pets to water to trebuchets to the test this weekend at the 28th annual Franklin Science and Technology Fair.

More than 380 students from the county's five school districts entered the fair.

Hosted by the Franklin Science Council, the fair is a way for students to put their grasp of scientific method to the test in creative and unique ways, said Catherine Hade, treasurer of the council.

Starting Friday, students assembled their displays in the Chambersburg Area Middle School gym.

"This is the thing that makes science fun," said Hade, who teaches science at Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Senior High School.

Students in kindergarten to grade 6 were awarded prizes Friday for their projects.

Any students in kindergarten to grade 12 can enter the fair, Hade said. Some students are required to enter the fair, she said.

Some projects, such as St. Thomas Elementary School student Meridyth Sanders' project on Slinkys, caught the attention of more than just the 48 judges, who awarded her first place.

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"I like the Slinky project," said Jordan Bender, 12, of Chambersburg.

Assigned to attend the fair and write a short essay critiquing and praising the projects, he said he could not find a single project he would change.

His mother, Carla Bender, was equally impressed with the work of the students.

"As a mom, I want to get across cleanliness, so I was really impressed with the one project on bacteria," she said. "I was shocked to see that the video game control had the most bacteria, while the dog's mouth had the least."

Diane McCallum, science supervisor for the Chambersburg Area School District, said there was a palpable energy among students as they registered their projects in the fair.

Caitlyn Hill, a senior at Waynesboro Area Senior High School, said it was her years entering and winning prizes in the fair that helped her get into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

Even though Caitlyn did not enter the fair this year, her brother submitted a project, she said.

Her father, Carl Hill, said his family are huge believers in how the fair benefits youths.

Science has not yet made its way into the Adequate Yearly Progress rating set by federal No Child Left Behind legislation, said Mary Ellen Moore, language arts instructor at the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School.

But it is a large part of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests taken by every student, particularly scientific method, which she said accounts for 40 percent of the science questions on the test.

Hade said the fair continues through today, with the junior and senior division prizes awarded at 1 p.m.

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