Monday, March 16, 2009

Q & A with D & A - and more Science Fair fun

Walker's Science Fair was fabulous - even without rides! We think about 150 kids chose to participate in the optional event, including four from Dane's class and four from Aubrey's.

Before we post a full-on report and photos, though, there were some good comments and questions made on the previous blog about Dane and Aubrey's projects, so the two mad scientists want to respond to their fans.

These questions are from "Auntie Dani" [Anjie's cousin] in Tacoma, WA-
Q for Dane: Will a cob bench last through all kinds of weather?
A from Dane: It has to have a good roof.

Q for Aubrey: Does baking powder lose its 'umph' if it gets too old? (I have a can that's been in my cupboard since Tai was 10 or so... now, he's 17...)
A from Aubrey: I'm not really sure, but my Mom says, "YOU BETTER GET YOURSELF A NEW CAN!"

These come from "Grammy," hailing from University Place, WA-
Q for Dane: Winter changes to spring in a week - when will your cob bench for the school be built?
A from Dane: I have no idea. It has to be sunny and not rainy.

Q for both kids:
I bet the science fair this eve was really interesting. What are a few of your favorite projects your classmates and schoolmates presented?
A from Dane: The jelly bean one where you got to test jelly bean flavors and you tried getting them right. [The experiment there was to test whether adults or kids have better taste buds. Supposedly, kids do...]
A from Aubrey:
I liked the volcano presentation and I liked when it exploded. They put in vinegar and baking soda. They react and make stuff come out of the volcano.

Q for both kids: I imagine Indi and Barritt were involved. What did they present?
A from Dane and Aubrey: Barritt did one on crystals and salt and sugar. And Indi didn't do one, but she did her first violin recital a few days earlier! [Below is a picture of Barritt and Aubrey in front of Barritt's display.]

These come from "Mema" in Puyallup, WA-
Q for Dane:
Do you have some kind of cover over your structure while it is drying? Also, does it dry so hard that you won't get dirty when you touch it?
A from Dane: If it's wet outside, it dries under some sort of carport cover or in a garage. Our mini-cob bench took 4 days to dry like that. To answer your next question, yes, it dries so hard that when you touch it it doesn't get you dirty.

Q for Aubrey: Was the cake without leavening so hard that you could not even bite into it? How did you know to bake both at the same time so the conditions would be exactly the same (that's science!)?
A from Aubrey: No, but it didn't taste good and it was a little harder. I knew to bake them together, because that's how my mom said that's how we're going to put them in.

Above, Aubrey talks to a judge and explains all the parts of her experiment. When she's finished he gives her a purple ribbon that says MAD SCIENTIST in gold lettering.

Below, Aubrey explains her experiment to her awesome cousin Barritt.

Above, Dane and Avery and Logan pose before their three displays. It was neat to see how the three displays differed. In general, they covered a lot of the same information, but some key differences were:
  • Dane's display pointed out that some cob structures built in the 1400s are still standing; Avery's display said some structures built 500 years ago are still standing - and showed pictures he found on the internet! and Logan showed a photo of how Anakin Skywalker's home in Star Wars I is made of cob;
  • Dane's was the only display that offered hypotheses (what we called his "Best Guess Answers") about other 'natural' and 'environmentally friendly' outdoor furniture options, which is a fun and creative list (personal favorite, you could make outdoor furniture out of "vines, but that might only make a cool tire swing");
  • Avery's display showed the process of making cob with photos he found on the internet that even showed people mixing with their feet;
  • Logan compared soil samples from his school and from his home that showed which was more clay-rich -- a good thing to know when we build the one for the library!
Other projects we saw that night include hillside erosion analysis, DNA strand isolation of a tomato (those two projects were by 5th graders), how to make bubbles from dry ice, how electromagnetics work, how waves form, and lots and lots of experiments to see how quickly a piece of fruit decomposes in different liquids like water, soda pop, or vinegar.

Overall, the science fair was a super learning experience. Personally, I have never participated in a science fair; I'm thrilled my kids have the opportunity to get started at such a young age.

I think that if these building blocks of scientific understanding get started early, they might not feel so confounded when they're 16 and trying to make sense of General Biology or Sophomore Chemistry class... I'm just sayin'.

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