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Students learn science, thinking skills at fair

The effects of color on blood pressure, caffeine on pulse and temperature on mold growth. These were just some of the questions Rock Hill Middle School students tackled at the science fair Wednesday morning.

The fair featured the work of students in from each grade level in several different scientific categories.

“I’m amazed every year,” Kathy Gore, a seventh grade science teacher, said of the projects. “This gives you a chance to see how they think and their ideas.”

The competition Wednesday was thin compared to years past because the fair was not a requirement for sixth and seventh grade students, as it had been in the past.

“It was all voluntary,” Gore said. “These are the kids that wanted to set up.”

Compared to about 270 students in years past, this year’s fair only featured the work of about 96 students.

Several professionals from the community volunteered to judge the competition.

Volunteers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, principals and teachers and students from other schools, and some volunteers from the court system were among the judges.

The projects are rated according to their creativity, expression, what the students learned and the students’ use of the scientific method.

“I look for originality, creativity,” Gore said. “Most importantly, following the scientific method, something that has to be tested.”

Besides learning the scientific method, sixth grade science teacher Joe Sark said the students also learn analytical thinking and time management.

“A lot of it is analytical thinking and being able to work a problem forward and backward,” Sark said. “This is something that takes a couple months to prepare, not a few days.”

Sark said he was pleased that the students did well despite missing a few days of school because of bad weather conditions.

“We’ve got some that look pretty good.”

Madeline Malone, a seventh grader, chose to do her project on one of her favorite things: dogs.

“I always wanted to know if dogs were like humans,” she said, adding that she has five of the creatures as pets.

So Madeline decided to determine if dogs preferred to use one a paw over the other the way that humans are right-handed or left-handed.

To test her theory that dogs favor one of their paws, Madeline tested 25 dogs to see which paws they used to remove a treat from under a glass or from under a couch.

Madeline concluded that more dogs are “left-pawed” than “right-pawed.”

“It was a really fun project and I had a lot of fun doing it,” she said.

Taylor Maines, a sixth grader, set out to determine what size pipe could generate enough static electricity to make an object levitate for the longest amount of time.

“I wanted to see if (levitation) was science or magic,” Taylor said.

Those students who scored a superior rating and the top scores with an excellent rating will go on to compete at the Lawrence County science fair in March.