Under the microscope

Published 9:04 am Friday, December 16, 2011

Emily Anderson readies her experiment with the help of test subject, and her pet rat, Dusty, during the Ellis Science Fair. Anderson worked with Alexandra Wood on their experiment, "Will a rat go faster through a maze with or without music?"

Ellis students  turnout in droves for science fair

And the teachers said: Let there be science.

Ellis Middle School’s annual Science Fair took place Thursday afternoon with a cafeteria full of students.

Ellis Middle School student Sam Borgerson describes his science fair project with judge Helen Heimark Thursday after noon at Ellis Middle School. Borgerson's project was, “What is growing in public restrooms.”

“We have a lot more participants this year,” said Tom Fritz, Ellis science teacher. Fritz said science projects were mandatory for middle schoolers this year. They could choose to present in class or participate in the science fair, and many of them chose to participate in the science fair. The extra exposure to science fairs hopefully means students have the scientific method down pat by eighth-grade, according to Fritz.

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There were plenty of hypotheses on display, from whether different types of music could make a person’s pulse change to whether different types of road would affect a toy car’s speed.

“These things set up kids for whatever they want to do in the future,” said Domingo Ramirez, Austin High School senior and science fair judge.

There were plenty of impressive displays, like sixth-grader Emily Sayles’s experiment on whether different boat shapes would hold more weight. Using aluminum boats and coins, she determined a canoe-shaped boat could hold more than a barge-shaped boat.

“I did a similar thing in science last year,” Sayles said. She wanted to pursue the boat experiment as the class didn’t spend enough time on the lesson and she wanted to see how different volumes could hold more weight.

Eighth-graders Bailee Brooks and Alicia Skolte took the science fair a step further by extracting DNA from strawberries. Brooks saw a similar experiment done at the Science Museum of Arizona and she has always been interested in DNA. Brooks and Skolte worked on the project for two months, finally extracting DNA on Monday.

“It was a lot of work,” Brooks said.

Yet the experiment paid off in the end for the duo.

“To see (DNA) in real life is really cool,” Skolte said.

“No one ever thinks about what they’re eating,” Brooks added.

The Science Fair winners will be announced at an assembly next Wednesday.