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More than 500 show science projects at Franklin Science Fair

April 08, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Even at just 9 years old, Tommy Moore already thinks he wants to be a scientist.

As a start toward that dream, Tommy, a fourth-grader at Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School, decided that he wanted to enter a project in this year's Franklin Science Fair, which began with the setup Friday evening inside the Chambersburg Area Middle School.

Tommy wanted to find out which color attracts the most heat when exposed to sunlight.

"I found out that purple actually attracts the most heat," he said, standing with his father, Tom Moore of Greencastle, and his 11-year-old sister, Alana, a fifth-grader at Tommy's school. Alana also entered a project in the fair.

They were just two of more than 530 entrants to show projects at the fair, said Diane McCallum, a representative of the Franklin Science Council, which organizes the annual event that is now in its 26th year.

The fair is open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. today. An awards ceremony is scheduled to start shortly after 4 p.m. for the winners of each class, which includes primary (kindergarten through third grade), intermediate (grades 4-6), junior (grades 7-8) and senior (grades 9-12).

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible to submit a project as long as they are a student in Franklin County.

Science fair projects really help kids learn more about what may interest them later in life, McCallum said.

"It just gives the kids an opportunity to investigate something that they are interested in more deeply," she said.

Projects were judged for demonstration of proper use of the scientific method, originality and overall presentation, Judging Coordinator Frank Kristine said.

Richie Gilford, 11, a fifth-grader at Waynesboro Area Middle School, called his project "Ping Pong Catapult," which sought to find the most accurate combination of factors that allowed a small catapult to fire a plastic ball.

"I think he did really well," said his mother, Gail Gilford. "He pretty much set up all the testing himself and did the history of it, the research, everything."

Ethan Flack, 8, a third-grader at Falling Springs Elementary School, wanted to find out if swallowed gum dissolves inside the stomach. He did that by chewing gum then placing it inside containers with acid, learning in the process that the gum remained intact after three weeks of soaking.

"This is the same gum," he said, pointing at one of the jars.

"He really likes this," said his father, Steve Flack. "We've been doing this since he's been in kindergarten."

With less funding becoming available for school districts, science clubs at the elementary level can often be the first programs to get cut as school boards try to balance their budgets, McCallum said.

Thanks to numerous local organizations, businesses and generous individuals, the science fair continues to provide students with an avenue for experimentation as well as the chance to win several hundreds of dollars in prizes.

"Let's face it, innovation runs the economy," said Moore, a physics teacher at Chambersburg Area Senior High School. "There are a lot of supporters that help provide prizes for this. It's always nice to have people chip in and help out."

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