Colfax Elementary Science Fair yields some surprising results
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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — What happens if you float a balloon in maple syrup?
What happens if you soak an egg (in the shell) in lemon juice?
Do a water molecule and a melted snow molecule look different under a microscope?
These were just some of the questions answered by experiments conducted for the Colfax Elementary Science Fair.
Displays for the science fair experiments were set up in the hallway by the Colfax Elementary library the week of February 13 so that visitors to the school for parent-teacher conferences February 13 and February 16 were able to see them.
Two of the scientists, fourth graders Vinny DeMoe and Leni Guidaboni, were kind enough to describe their experiments for the Colfax Messenger.
Vinny is a student in Dianna Dachel’s class.
Leni is a student in Nick Heit’s class.
The students who participated in the science fair had to form their hypothesis, had to design an experiment to test their hypothesis, then they had to describe the methods they used to test their hypothesis and they also had to write out the results of the experiment and whether their hypothesis was proven to be true.
Students then made displays using their hypothesis, methods, results and the materials from their experiments.
Vinny DeMoe’s experiment involved small inflated balloons and various liquids.
“I was checking the density of different substances,” he explained.
The results were somewhat surprising.
“Maple syrup sinks. Vegetable oil floats. Tap water sinks. Baking soda sinks. Rubbing alcohol floats. Salt water sinks. Dish soap floats,” Vinny said.
The baking soda and dish soap were mixed with water.
Vinny said he had found the idea for his experiment on the Internet.
“We got our invitation to (take part in the science fair), and I was looking on the Internet to see what I could do, and I found this one,” he said.
According to his hypothesis, Vinny believed the balloon would sink in maple syrup, baking soda and rubbing alcohol, and that the balloon would float in saltwater, dish soap and vegetable oil.
As it turned out in the experiment, the balloon sank in maple syrup and baking soda, just as Vinny hypothesized, but instead of sinking in the rubbing alcohol, the balloon floated.
As for Vinny’s hypothesis that the balloon would float in salt water, dish soap and vegetable oil, the balloon floated in vegetable oil and dish soap, but contrary to his hypothesis, the balloon sank in saltwater.
Vinny’s experiment won the “Superb Experimental Design” award and the “Mr. Yingst” award.
For those readers who may not be aware, William C. Yingst Jr., Colfax school district administrator, started out in the Colfax school district as a science teacher.
Leni Guidaboni’s experiment involved checking the effects of different kinds of liquids on an eggshell, which is similar to tooth enamel.
“My experiment is learning about (tooth) enamel. We took different liquids. We have milk. Lemon juice. Dr. Pepper and water. Some of (the eggs) got dirty or weird, and some of them stayed the same,” she said.
Leni also used coffee and blueberry tea to soak the eggs.
The eggs soaked in their respective liquids for two days.
The Dr. Pepper egg turned a dark color. The lemon juice egg became bumpy and textured, as if had been rolled in very large granules of sugar. The milk egg became slightly textured. The egg soaked in water appeared to have no changes at all.
Leni’s hypothesis was that the egg was not going to change in milk.
“But it did change,” she noted.
The color of the egg in milk did not change, but the shell did become weaker, according to Leni’s experiment results.
Leni’s hypothesis was that the egg would not change color in milk, which it did not, but that the shell also would not become weaker, which it did.
For the Dr. Pepper egg, Leni’s hypothesis was that the color would become darker and the shell would be weaker, which is exactly what happened.
For the lemon juice, Leni hypothesized the egg would change color and the shell would become weaker.
The lemon juice egg did not really change color very much, but there were significant changes in the surface of the egg with the granulation, and the shell was weaker.
For the water, Leni hypothesized the shell would become weaker and the color would not change, but the results of the experiment showed there were no changes in the color or the strength of the shell.
For the blueberry tea and the coffee eggs, Leni hypothesized that the shell would become weaker and would turn darker, which was exactly what happened with both liquids.
In addition to the implications for tooth enamel when people drink coffee, tea, milk or something with lemon juice, Leni’s science display also pointed out that if people do not floss their teeth, they are missing out on cleaning up to 40 percent of the surface of their teeth.
Leni’s experiment won the “Most Practical” award.
Another experiment in the science fair included checking the amount of time it would take a gummy bear to melt in various temperatures of water.
Boiling water, it seems, melts gummy bears the fastest.
A different experiment involved simulating how rain falls through clouds with food coloring and shaving cream.
Yet another experiment focused on finding out what kind of medium that chives would sprout best in — pure potting soil, pure sand or a mixture of sand and potting soil.
As it turned out, the chives sprouted the best in a mixture of potting soil and sand.
Still another experiment revolved around testing whether fluoride toothpaste actually protects teeth by soaking eggs in different kinds of liquids.
The eggs treated with toothpaste fared better than those that were not.
Other experiments answered whether different kinds of apples have different numbers of seeds (they do), and do water molecules look different under a microscope than melted snow (yes).
In addition to the “Most Practical,” “Superb Experimental Design” and the “Mr. Yingst” awards, other awards included the “Mr. Dachel” award; the “Future Stephen Babcock” award; the “Mrs. Schaffner” award; the “Lorax” award; and the “Future Bill Nye” award.
In all, about 15 experiments were on display for the Colfax Elementary Science Fair.