At Phelps Luck Elementary, a showcase for the kids


May 21, 2002|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DOES THE color of food influence its taste? What chemicals make metal rust? These and many other questions were raised in the 58 science projects on display May 14 at Phelps Luck Elementary School's science fair.

The displays were part of "May Daze Celebration," which included an enrichment fair of children's work in each grade and performances by the school's band, chorus and orchestra.

"The event showcases the kids' work in every grade," Assistant Principal Jonathan Davis said. "We are extremely proud of all our students."

The fair was sponsored by the PTA science committee.

"It's unusual for an elementary school to have a science fair," said Cynthia Wick, a mathematician and a member of the committee. "We want to show kids science can be fun."

The committee is made up of five parent volunteers. Throughout the year, the committee sponsors speakers, organizes the science fair and provides incentives for children, said committee Chairwoman Lindsey Panton, a biologist.

Seventy-one children worked on projects at home and displayed their results at the fair. Every participant will be awarded an engraved medal next month.

Fifth-graders Catriona Moody and Laura Harrington said they enjoyed watching people's faces as they tasted green, red, blue and gray vanilla ice cream (colored with food coloring). Tasters were asked, "Does color influence taste?"

"It was fun to be the one holding the secret," Laura said.

The girls used 39 taste testers, including 22 children.

"Not many people were fooled," Catriona said. "But kids were definitely more influenced by color than adults."

Some experiments were more complex. Third-grader Aileen Tartanian measured the diameter of the sun using a pinhole viewer that she made out of a cornmeal canister and a poster tube. After measuring the image, she used a mathematical equation that she said brought her within 2 percent of the true diameter. "It was easy," Aileen said. "All you have to do is solve for a ratio."

For some, getting involved in science was an eye-opening experience.

"When you do an experiment, you get to do things you never knew you could," said third-grader Jennifer Pratt, who worked with classmate Rebeka Gomez Wick to discover what makes bread rise the most.

"I thought you had to make a new food to make science," Jennifer said. "I didn't know you could do an experiment with food that already existed."

"The fair gets the kids actively involved in science," first-grade teacher Kara Keeney said. "It's fun to see what the kids are doing."

Also serving on the PTA science committee are Buck Ferrin, a high school chemistry teacher in Carroll County, physicist Agust Valfells and engineer Afzal Chowdhury.

Surprise scholarship

Long Reach High School senior Samantha McCoy did not suspect anything out of the ordinary as she sat in her sociology class May 10.

Not until her guidance counselor, Donna Cook, walked in and announced, "Someone from this class has won a $1,000 Papa John's scholarship."

Immediately after Cook, representatives from Papa John's Pizza entered the classroom with pizza and drinks for everyone in the class. Inside one of the boxes was a giant check for Samantha.

"Her mouth dropped open, and her eyes got big when I made the announcement," Cook said.

Samantha's parents, Jacky and Andrew McCoy, and her brothers, Jonathan, a freshman at Long Reach, and Michael, 7, who is home-schooled, were present to help her celebrate.

The scholarship was awarded as part of a national Papa John's Scholars Program.

Books on exhibit

Congratulations to five Stevens Forest Elementary School pupils whose handmade books are on display at Columbia Art Center.

"Moon Books" by second-graders Eric Yi, Erin Yarn, Jarren Tyler, Kim Harris and Sivan Roth are part of the "Reading as Process, Art as Content" exhibit.

"The children were studying the moon in science class," art teacher Nancy Charamella said. "They made moon calendars in science class, they drew illustrations in art class and wrote essays in language arts class."

Handmade books by orchestra teacher Patrick Walls and Charamella also are on display.

The center is at 6100 Foreland Garth. The show will run through June 2.

Information: 410-730-0075.

Engineering challenge

Two teams of engineering students from Howard County public school system's Technology Magnet Program took first and third place in the NASA Engineering Challenge 2002.

Long Reach High School senior Sam Summerford was on the first-place team and junior Jatin Shaw was on the third-place team. The teams were made up of students from Long Reach and River Hill high schools. They competed with teams from Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County and Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's County.

The competition asks each team to solve a set of hypothetical challenges that could be encountered during a space mission. The students are expected to integrate engineering, science and mathematics into their solutions.

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