Students explore diapers, slime and more

There were volcanoes, models of human cells and slime, lots of slime.

The annual student science fair at Clifton Hunter High School on Friday also had an array of not-so-traditional displays, such as one on brain differences by gender, one that used water to generate power and another on which diaper brands are most absorbent.

Donna Rhule, subject leader for science at the school, said the science fair was started three years ago, when she and her colleagues recognized students needed more hands-on opportunities.

“Their problem-solving skills were underdeveloped,” Ms. Rhule said. “This was our solution for that.”

The fair is required for Year 7 students, but others can participate as well. Ms. Rhule said she thinks the event has had an impact on students’ performances.

“We have seen significant results,” Ms. Rhule said. “Last year we had a 15-percent increase (in exam scores).”

By focusing the event on Year 7 students, Ms. Rhule and others said it puts students on a better footing for their science studies later on.

“They’re better able to follow the criteria and come up with end products that are the highest-possible level,” said science teacher Kashena Bennett. Rebecca Jackson, 11, and her teammates were showing how to generate electricity using pieces of fruit.

“I came to the page in my science book on electricity,” Rebecca said, “and I remembered a video I watched on YouTube and they were using a potato for electricity.”

Citric acid in fruit, she learned, could do the same thing, once an anode and cathode – in this case, galvanized nails – were properly attached to the fruit. The team decided to test which fruit was most conductive, testing an orange, lemon, pineapple and apple. The lemon and apple tied as the winners.

“They pretty much have the same level of acidity,” said Mieah Leon, 11. Doing the experiment, she said, taught her that fruit “is good for your body and your health and for your home and your appliances.”

Stephen Ta’Bois is the science, technology, engineering and math specialist for the Ministry of Education. He was judging the student presentations and said the fair is a good way to get students thinking about STEM subjects.

“It’s good for them to explore their own questions in something they’re really interested in,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to generate their interest in science.”