Sunday, April 30, 2017

Science Fair 2017

When it takes me forever to blog about something, it's usually because I'm busy.  Every once in a while, I may hold off from sharing because I'm not emotionally ready to process the experience. Science Fair 2017 falls into the latter category.

Oh my heavens.  January just about killed me.  The kids went back to school and were immediately assaulted by projects out the wazoo, including three intense science fair presentations.  While I firmly believe that science fair projects belong to the student and should reflect their ideas and research, just coaching the munchkins through the process felt like a full-time job.  (And gave me a few gray hairs to boot.)

Talia's was the easiest.  She stuck fruit in mason jars to see what (if anything) would happen.  Turns out that unless you're a banana, not much changes in two weeks.

She worked with a classmate Nora who did the same with vegetables.  Her friend stuck the veggies in plastic baggies, so by the end of two weeks she had all sorts of colorful goop growing.   Hopefully the girls learned a bit about controlling variables, and why we use canning jars instead of ziplocs for preserving.

While the project itself may not have earned a blue ribbon, I was super proud of Talia and Nora's initiative in designing and executing the experiment by themselves.  The only help Talia asked for was with logging onto the computer and printing pictures.

For his project, Eli decided that he wanted to test which kind of paper airplane flies the furthest.  In desperate need of a calm, uninterrupted chunk of time to help him, I kept Eli home one day so we could research and build five different models.

He tested the aiplanes, recorded the data, and made some graphs to show his results.  Turns out that when it comes to distance, your classic model is best.

And now for Brooklyn.  Oh my.  If it weren't for the amazing Christy Spackman mentoring Brooklyn through the process, I probably would have had a major meltdown.  At first Brooklyn wanted to test the strength of various balloons by filling them with shaving cream and popping them. (Really?!!)  Thank heavens Christy appealed to Brooklyn's inner baker and suggested that they could experiment with different kinds of fat in cookies.  Once the project got rolling, it was really quite interesting.   Brooklyn learned a ton about different fat structures, ratios, statistics, sensory tasting, and of course baking.   Here's Brooklyn in the midst of baking her first batch of gingersnaps.

Gingersnaps as made per the original recipe.

They look (and taste) quite different when you substitute coconut oil.

Nearly done.  Ta da!

A side by side comparison of the samples: shortening, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter, respectively.

Finishing up her project board at midnight the night before.  Like mother, like daughter.

After so much hard work, it was wonderful to see Brooklyn's project come together so well.

Happily presenting her research.

To all of the Wheeler munchkins, we are proud of you and the hard work you put into your projects.  May your enthusiasm for science and learning continue on (and may the science fair not return for at least another year.)


Anonymous said...

I realize school science fairs are likely more challenging for the parents than the students, but it is to your credit that you remain supportive of such projects. From your photos it is easy to discern the difference various "shortnings" (butter, etc.) make in the final look and feel, and I suppose taste, of Brooklyn's cookies. That said, it is afternoon in Omaha, and I'm tired of moving boxes, and a cookie sounds very good at this point. I'll take one of each please (I bet they are all tasty) ... fly them to me on Eli's most reliable paper airplane. Thank you!

Susie said...

The projects all looked amazing!