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Ellie Hubbard assembles the maze she put together as her science project. The maze can be re-assembled into different configurations so her hamster, Frank, has a new challenge every time and can’t memorize the maze to make his time through it faster.

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Lighting up their brains

Science class helps gifted JRE students devise experiments, prepare for science fair

Frank, a chubby, black hamster, scurries through the maze as owner Ellie Hubbard, a fourth-grader at Julia Randall Elementary (JRE), times his dash through the tunnels made of clear plastic cups linked together with Scotch tape. “He did that in 10.7 seconds,” she says. Then Ellie tears apart the maze of tubes to reconfigure them. She has Frank do it all over again. This time, it takes him 26.1 seconds. She writes the results in a notebook. “I’m trying to learn about learning patterns,” she said. Ellie will present the results of her observations at the JRE school-wide science fair on Feb. 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the gym. In this weekly program, she and 22 other students spend an hour with Carme Locke, a former Payson teacher who came out of retirement to administer the pullout science program. The particular science class is aimed at children identified with special needs in the gifted and talented education program (GATE).

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