Budding scientists shine at Crossroads

Projects on everything from tornadoes and taste buds to bridges and optical illusions filled the gym at Crossroads School in Devlin for its third-annual science fair.
Younger students worked on projects assigned by their teacher while those in grades 4-6 chose their own topics. Even senior kindergarten students participated—they looked at how things float using Play-doh boats to demonstrate.
“There’s been a considerable improvement in science in the district,” said Crossroads principal Brian Love. “It’s really coming together.”
In Grade 1, students got together in groups of four to deduce which brand of paper towel was the most absorbent. Grade 2 and 3 students worked individually on projects selected by their teachers.
This year, Grade 2 students did projects on Canadian mammals while those in Grade 3 studied structures and their materials. There were many intricate designs of bridges on display.
One third grader, Daniel Murray, even went to NorFab to research trusses for his project.
“We get them thinking about scientific method [early],” said Love. “It gives them a comfort level with science.
“They also learn about colour and contrast [for the display of their presentations], and how to do visual and auditory presentations,” he added.
Students from grades four-six were judged by grade level.
“Grade 4 to Grade 6 students are expected to come up with their own projects,” said Love. “We really encourage the family to become involved.”
Ralph Hill, vice-chair of the Crossroads school council, was one of the judges. He asked science fair participant Shannon Darby some difficult questions, but she was more than capable of answering them.
“She has one of the best projects I’ve seen so far,” Hill said of her project on home remedy stain removers which took a silver in the competition.
Grade 4 student Joe Jewell’s project took a thorough look at taste buds. His mother helped him search the Internet for his topic.
“It took a lot of hard work,” he admitted. “My Mom helped me find photos. I did a bit each day.”
Jewell acknowledged compliments on his project, saying, “I’m really good at science and math.”
But scientific lessons aren’t without their pitfalls.
“I almost spit out the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt on my sister,” Jewell said of the taste-testing segment of his project. “The salt was harder to spit out because it wasn’t liquid.”
Jewell learned different people can taste things to different degrees—even with their noses plugged. His biggest challenge probably was tasting the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt without plugging his nose, he said.
Meanwhile, Grade 8 student Micheline Chiefson’s project examined optical illusions.
“I was looking in a book and kept changing projects,” she noted. “First I was going to do it on periscopes, then on magnets, but I finally decided on illusions.”
Her project gave several examples of optical illusions and the reasons they work.
And Grade 7 student Jeremy Caul was inspired to do his project on tornadoes after one passed through Devlin last July. His project demonstrated what a tornado looks like when it’s developing and dissipating.
“It’s cyclonic action,” he said of the swirling action inside a mason jar.
Caul also gave an in-depth look on how to measure the intensity of a tornado with the fujita scale, which examines the damage caused after it has passed over a manmade structure.
His presentation included photos of the tornado’s effects on the Devlin Hall and even his own backyard last year.
“When you went into the Devlin Hall after the tornado, you could see the lights hanging by the wire,” he said of the inspiration for his project.
Awards presentations took place Thursday afternoon. The medal winners were:
•Grade 4—Chelsea Craig (gold), Matt Kellar (silver), and Anikka McTavish (bronze);
•Grade 5—Laura Richardson (gold), Tyler Romyn and Jason Rose (silver), and Justin Rose (bronze);
•Grade 6—Jon Rogowsky (gold), with Scott Williams (silver), and Garnet Cornell and Joshua Rogowsky (bronze);
•Grade 7—Sean Love (gold), Shannon Darby (silver), and Jessica Woodgate (bronze).
•Grade 8—Kevin Empey (gold), Wyatt Hughes (silver), and Michelle Beck and Alyssa Harrison (bronze).
The winners now have a chance to compete in the Sunset Country Regional Science Fair coming up April 12-13 in Fort Frances. About 150-200 students will attend from across the area.