Best sunscreen? Tomato? Science fair provides answers

About 180 students at South Bay Elementary participate in school’s event

lpemberton@theolympian.comMarch 24, 2014 

Ah, spring.

The days are getting longer. Flowers have begun to bloom.

And school gyms and multipurpose rooms everywhere are being taken over by tri-fold presentation boards about baking soda volcanoes, homemade crystals, moldy food and other popular science fair projects.

About 180 students in grades 3-5 participated last week in South Bay Elementary School’s

Science Expo, according to fifth-grade teacher Kim Seldomridge.

She said the event’s goal was “to build enthusiasm about science and exposure to science.”

The projects ranged from simple ones such as comparing the mold rates on an organic versus regular store-bought tomato, to complex ones such as a homemade box oven.

Fifth-grader Ian Coker, 11, compared the effectiveness of four different types of sunscreen by using color-changing ultraviolet sensing beads.

He said the experiment was more than just a science expo project.

“I know that I have to wear sunscreen in the summer, and I wanted to know which one would protect better,” Coker said.

At South Bay, the science expo was optional, Seldomridge said. Students viewed the display boards throughout the day. During the evening, families were invited to watch demonstrations and view the work.

Each student received a certificate and ribbon for their participation; and some students were already planning their projects for next year, Seldomridge said.

“I’m very proud of them,” she added. “I’m very pleased with the quality of science and their enthusiasm.”

Science fair tips

Science-fair season has begun. Here are some tips to help your child’s project shine:

1. Look for project ideas online or at the library. South Bay Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Kim Seldomridge recommends the website www.sciencebuddies.org, which boasts more than 1,000 science fair ideas. Pinterest has plenty of ideas too.

2. Choose a topic that your child is interested in. “Find something fun,” said South Bay parent Winnie Uyehara, whose 9-year-old daughter McKenzie measured the explosive effect of several types of candies dropped in two-liter bottles of Diet Coke. “Something that will get them motivated to do it.”

3. Make it a family affair. “It takes an entire family to build a science fair project,” Seldomridge said. “I think the parents should be highly involved.”

4. Don’t worry if the project doesn’t turn out the way you had expected. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s still good science,” Seldomridge said.

5. Budget your time wisely so that you have plenty of time to work on the presentation board, Seldomridge said.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com @Lisa_Pemberton

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