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Keene’s super scientists slam on

Keene Central School’s annual science fair packs the house once again

March 15, 2019
By MARTHA ALLEN - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

KEENE VALLEY - The Keene Central School's annual Super Scientific Science Slam - a science fair that was held Thursday, March 7 - is awaited with eager anticipation by kindergarten through 12th grade Keene Central School students and adults alike.

Every March since Jen Kazmierczak and KCS science teacher Mary Werner introduced the first Science Slam in 2012, student enthusiasm, imagination, research and assiduously applied scientific method have culminated in a lively and informative exhibition of diverse and informative projects.

Kazmierczak said her son, Jonah, was in fifth grade when the Science Slam started.

Article Photos

Juliana Tremblay and Liana Shambo stand next to their winning K-5 science project, Ice Tray Batteries with Different Liquids.
(Photo provided — Sarah Tremblay)

"Now Jonah is in college, and we're still doing it!"

As is usual for KCS student events, the parking lot was full, and cars were parked up and down Market Street. Inside, the school hummed with energetic activity. Elementary students discussed and demonstrated their projects on the main floor, while older students occupied the second floor.

Using plastic ice trays and tiny light sticks, Juliana Tremblay and Liana Shambo explained how various liquids, including vinegar, apple juice and orange juice, acted as battery acid. The results were not what observers might expect. Orange juice, for example, proved less acidic, and therefore less effective at creating a bright light, than apple juice.

"You think of orange juice as acidic," Juliana explained, "but it's not as acidic as it seems."

Hunter Kelley's display, "Extraordinary Tardigrades," told the bizarre life story of tardigrades, also known as water bears, microscopic segmented, eight-legged creatures that can be found in moss and lichen, but also just about everywhere there is water, living by sucking the insides out of cells. They can withstand decades of dehydration as well as radiation, freezing, extreme heat, crushing pressure and even the rigors of space travel. Inspired by the water bears in the Marvel Studios movie "Ant Man and the Wasp," Hunter researched his subject and even created a figurine, many times enlarged, of a puffy, pink water bear.

Julian Smith displayed a quivering gelatin replica of a human brain, which he used to demonstrate the effects of brain damage caused by blows to the head when a helmet is worn. His mother, Jen Brooks, said that Julian experimented with several kinds of gelatin before coming up with a model that was sufficiently firm and of the right consistency for the experiment.

Wrapping up the Slam, the traditional fourth-grade Gravity Car Challenge and the fifth-grade egg drop were held in the gym. Suspense ran high as carefully packaged eggs were dropped from the balcony to the gym floor, and there were oohs and ahs from the audience as they hit, some heavily and others lightly bouncing. The point was to create packing material that would protect an egg from breaking even when dropped from a great height.

Of the Gravity Car Challenge, fourth-grade teacher Chad Filipski said, "Small teams of Keene Central School fourth graders engineered and built wooden cars for the Gravity Car Challenge. We don't compete against each other in this event. Instead, we employ classwide teamwork for everyone's benefit. We exercise the strength of teamwork, by holding classwide collaborative meetings where helpful feedback from our classmates helps each team improve its design. Within this structure, each team improved its car's performance significantly. They tested, tuned and rebuilt their cars until they had extracted every last bit of speed, momentum and distance from their designs. The Gravity Car Challenge was a showcase of their efforts, and a demonstration of how a group can benefit from everyone's input."

Here are the 2019 Science Slam contest results: People's Choice was a tie between Schuyler Durant (A Puddle with a Purpose, an observational study of frog life in vernal pools) and Brooke Connors, Elsa Jacobson and Ava Pepe (Eggs in Vinegars).

K-5 Individual: First place was a tie between Hunter Kelley (Microscopic Tardigrades, or "Water Bears") and Schuyler Durant (A Puddle with a Purpose). Second place: Olivia Miller-Valovic (How and why do crystals grow?) K-5 Team: First place was a tie between Brooke Connors, Elsa Jacobson and Ava Pepe (Eggs in Vinegars) and Juliana Tremblay and Liana Shambo (Ice Tray Battery). Second place: Wyatt Martin and Sam Crowl (Volcanoes).

6-8 Individual: First place was a tie between Hunter Klotzko (Mirrors) and Finley Donahue (Cognitive Function Experiment). Adeline Blue (Absorbing Information by Reading) and Harley Cohen (Growing Spinach) tied for second place.

6-8 Team: First place: Sarah Tansey, Haylie Buysse and Anya Kazmierczak (Testing Acceleration and Friction). Second place was a tie between Pia Morrelli and Maddie Klotzko (Gummy Bears) and Addison VanNess, Lily Jones, Avry LaVallee and Emily Juckett (Fears Changing with Age).

9-12 Individual: First place: Brenna DeWalt (Wine Glasses and their Natural Resonance Frequency). Second place: Jarrod Colby (Super Rationality Survey).

9-12 Team: For first place, Sam Baldwin and Will Tansey (We Fly Planes) tied with Edward O'Neill and Sebastian Smith (Biological Attack Simulation).

Second place went to Tara Fine and Cal Page-Bryant (Fears: Nature or Nurture).

Reagan Whitney received first place in the fifth-grade Egg Drop. Regarding the fourth-grade Gravity Car Challenge, Mary Werner explained, "There are no winners in the Gravity Car Challenge. It isn't technically a competition, although it continues to be viewed that way. The students always have opinions on who won, but there are no actual winners."



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