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Students demonstrate ingenuity

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

Every year, about this time, the Park City Academy holds a science fair, where students from first-grade through ninth are encouraged to hypothesize and experiment. Monday, Feb. 5, 67 students displayed their work and gave demonstrations for over 100 attending parents and friends.

As with the Discovery Channel’s theory-testing show "Mythbusters," some students were able to draw strong conclusions supporting or bursting their theories, and others ended up as Edison and his light bulb, finding a multitude of ways that did not work as they had hoped, sometimes a better learning experience than success.

A lot of kids have heard of the 10-second, three-second, two-second rule. When food falls on the floor for 10 seconds or less, can germs react quickly enough to adhere to the food? Student Christy Brener tested the theory dropping food on a dirty floor for various amounts of time and then culturing the food on agar plates. Her conclusions? Everything that hit the floor grew germs, although staying on the floor longer seemed to enhance the germ culture.

Science instructor Peggy Fadling has been hosting the hands-on science fair for three years. Students chose an experiment or project, research their topic and draw conclusions. One of the last great science experiments at the Academy was the construction and launching of rockets by students and parents, also under her direction. This successful venture took place in a park near the school, several months ago, when weather was accommodating for flight.

Eighth-grade student Matt Schlentz, built a working hover craft, a leaf-blower engine and a plastic enclosure underneath it which would inflate and discharge a constant flow of pressured air, creating an air cushion. He was able to stand on his craft on the cushion air. His only limitation was the length of the blower-motor chord. His father introduced him to hover craft in San Diego.

Twins Eric and Will Zimmermann, 7, built twin barometers that were able to predict a coming snow storm.

Kelsey Hunter and Steffi Smith built a walk-in planetarium that could accommodate one medium-sized student or two smaller students. Glow-in-the-dark stars planets and stars made up the universe, with a flashlight aiding in the illumination.

Sixth-grade student Bryson, and his third-grade brother Kemper, attempted to attach engines to paper airplanes and test fly their aircraft. Father Bryan joined in and the three of them worked until one a.m. on prototypes that weren’t meeting expectations. Their success they did have one Wright-brothers-like experience where one plane flew 18 feet nonstop. Plans are already being concocted to top this year’s project. Next year the idea is to mount some kind of seat on a ski. Will it be powered by an airplane engine? They have one year to work that out.

So many wonderfully imaginative projects filled the gym of the Academy.

Things are not dull at the Park City Academy and perhaps one of the best conclusions that could be drawn Monday night is that learning can be downright fun.


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