• 72°

CHMS students play host to annual science fair

Did you know that a computer keyboard is “nastier” than a dog’s mouth or a toilet and that rock music will cause a plant to wilt and that non-chlorine bleach is better at removing stains than Clorox?

Those are just a few of the interesting facts that the students at Charles Henderson Middle School learned when they visited the Science Fair.

Did you know that a computer keyboard is “nastier” than a dog’s mouth or a toilet and that rock music will cause a plant to wilt and that non-chlorine bleach is better at removing stains than Clorox?

Those are just a few of the interesting facts that the students at Charles Henderson Middle School learned when they visited the Science Fair conducted by the eighth grade advanced science students on Friday.

This was the fifth year that Amanda Challancin’s students have hosted the Science Fair and it’s not the “typical” science fair.

“The CHMS Science Fair is an interactive fair,” Challancin said.

“My students give a one-minute presentation of their experiment to the students who come to visit their demonstration booths. They teach the scientific concept over and over throughout the morning. And, most of the groups let visiting students take part in their experiments and demonstrations.”

Challancin said the advanced science students are required to do a controlled experiment and follow the procedures of the scientific method.

“They will state a hypothesis and explain how they tested their hypothesis with an experiment and display the results in the form of a table, chart or graph,” Challancin said.

“In addition to the presentation, the groups had to choose a specific concept, conduct an experiment, plan and construct a poster board of their project and keep a log of all their efforts and time spent on a project. All of this is taken into consideration when a grade is given to the project.”

Fifty-nine students were involved in the CHMS Science Fair.

They worked in groups to present 20 different projects.

Topics of some of the projects were density, kinetic and potential energy conversions, air pressure, Bernoulli’s Principle, refraction of light, quality of guitar strings, tooth decay, plant responses to music and bacteria growth.

Madison Carpenter, Abby Linton and Noelle Smolcic disproved the conception that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s.

Swabs and a culture plates were all that was needed to show that bacteria from a human’s mouth is much cleaner than a dog’s but the alarming results were that a “computer keyboard is covered with far more germs than a toilet – eeek!”

The “teeth team” of Jonathan Carswell, Tripp Blackmon and Bobby Sharp found that dark, soft drinks, such as Coke and Pepsi, will stain teeth but acidic liquids such as lemon juice can do harm that can’t be brushed away.

Challancin said she allows her students to conduct science projects that relate to their interests.

“I encourage them to explore their interests and work their interests into a science project,” she said. “I want them to learn that science applies to everything.”

Each science project must be presented to Challancin for her approval and, as long as it’s a true project and not dangerous, she will give it the go-ahead.

Music was a popular topic and three young guitarists, Zach Ellis, Robby Elmore and Brandon Jordan, chose to test the tuning durability of the strings of different brands.

Three guitars, with different name brand strings, were tuned and then played an hour a day for two weeks, without retuning. Then, their tuning was tested against the control guitar.

“We found that D’addio strings were still tuned the best,” Ellis said. “We had thought that the Elixir strings would be because they are more expensive but they weren’t. That was a surprise.”

Mallory Franklin, Caitlin Edenfield and Alli Ellis wanted to test the effects that music has on plants. What they found was that a plant that was left to grow without music did well. However, when they bombarded a similar plant with rock music, the plant wilted down to almost nothing.

“There was just too much vibration and the plant just couldn’t take it,” the girls said. “Classical music has the opposite effect. When it’s played, plants grow better.”

Perhaps one of the most impressive projects was the trebuchet demonstration by the team of Robert Salmon, Jude Taylor and Preston Rhodes.

The teammates explained that a trebuchet was a medieval catapult for hurling heavy stones and was especially effective in warfare.

Their demonstration was held on the CHMS football field and attracted a large audience.

The effectiveness of such a device was evident as a soccer ball was catapulted 40 yards and a baseball took flight up to 70 yards.

Teams demonstrated balloon submarines, dropped eggs into small-necked bottles, made spaghetti swim, tested the merit of bleach, made lava lamps and demonstrated a dozen other things.

When the day was done, their teacher was more than pleased with their efforts.

Challancin said her students learned more from the science fair project and will remember it longer than anything she could teach them in the classroom. “They not only learned about a specific scientific concept, they also learned organizational skills, research skills and social skills because the worked in groups and got valuable hands-on experience,” she said.

“Many of the students planned well in advance. They worked hard and I’m proud of them. I’m thankful for the support from parents and administration and I think they should be recognized as well as the students. I’m very appreciative that I can do this for my students.”