For curious students at Pine Strawberry School, the fair on Wednesday offered the chance to discover answers to elemental questions — for instance, why do teeth need brushing?
Sixth-grader Nick Schneider won second place for answering that very question. By exposing teeth to Coca-Cola, honey, aspartame and sugar, Schneider determined that soda had the most detrimental effect.
His sister and her boyfriend are dentists, and they saved teeth they pulled from toothache victims for Schneider.
“They just kept all the good ones for me,” Schneider said.
Images of rotting teeth adorned the bulletin boards on which Schneider posted the project’s results. “It was cool looking at the gross pictures,” he said.
The first- through third-place winners move onto the state competition in Phoenix in March.
Junior high science teacher Stacy Flanagan said that engaging students in hands-on activities helps them learn more. “It covers way more of the standards than I could teach in a year,” Flanagan said.
Grand-prize winner Michael Uhlig crashed Styrofoam meteors into substances of various densities, including sand and soil.
The sixth-grader found a direct relationship between the substance’s softness and the crater’s size. A meteor falling into sand makes a larger dent than one falling into soil. He also experimented with pseudo-meteors of different sizes.
“I did meteors because it seemed interesting,” Uhlig said. “I was reading a story about meteors so I wanted to see what it would be like.”
Seventh-grader Haydn Jergens won third place for proving that salt crystals can provide an effective armor. He took Epsom salts and table salt, dissolved each into water in a jar, and put in the bottom a plastic bag with water and a piece of wood inside.
The experiment was meant to be useful for people. The bag represented skin, water stood for blood and the wood served as skin.
Jergens then performed a strength test to see if the salt, once hardened, protected the bag from breaking. The first test was a poke, followed by a jab, a punch and a whack.
The Epsom salts proved strongest.
Another project addressed the “infinite question” — whether color affects one’s mood due to the “infinite” connection between the eye and the brain. The students found that color does affect one’s mood, with green ushering in happiness, blue creating calm, and red inciting anxiety.