Park City School District science fair tests students’ mettle |

Park City School District science fair tests students’ mettle

Tyler DeMarco, left, and Joshua Cressman created a "pencil pal" to carry pencils for their engineering project. The two fifth-graders made multiple prototypes before settling on the final design.
Carolyn Webber/Park Record |

Ella McNeely came across a problem. Her older brother’s feet smelled so bad at the end of the day that she could not bear to be around him.

So, the sixth-grade student from Ecker Hill Middle School did an experiment to find the sock material that produced the least amount of bacteria. She presented her findings during the Park City School District Science and Engineering Fair last week.

After weeks of experimenting with different socks among her family members, she found that wool was the best for reducing bacteria.

“I will most likely get him some wool socks for his birthday,” she said.

Seventy students from grades five through 10 gathered last week to present the findings from their science fair projects, which ranged from discovering a way to turn salt water into fresh water to building a “pencil pal” so that students can stop losing their pencils.

The winners were Luca Senn for seventh/eighth-grade engineering, Elena Ruegemer for seventh/eighth-grade science, Max Ward-Nanney for fifth/sixth-grade science and Sebastian Wrona for fifth/sixth-grade engineering. The winners will continue on to the regional fair held at the University of Utah in March.

Gina Mason, district programming specialist, said that science fair projects are beneficial to students because they give them the tools they’ll need to help them in their future careers in the ever-changing world. Those skills come from diving into a project that they are interested in and finding a solution on their own.

“Sometimes you’re not always right, and kids have a hard time saying, ‘My hypothesis was wrong,’” she said. “When they realize that it is OK to be wrong and we can learn from our mistakes, that is just a good growth experience for them.”

She said that students also can explore what they are passionate about and learn which careers they would like to pursue or not.

Elspeth Stevenson, a sixth-grader who tested gravity’s effect on water pressure, said that regardless of where she ended up placing, she was happy to think like a scientist and test out her hypothesis.

“A lot of scientists use trial and error because they try one thing and it might not work,” she said. “It’s fun to test different things and learn new things.”

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