Watch out world---San Carlos has just launched a new batch of young scientists who can prove everything from the ratio of sand-to-water to make a perfect sandcastle (15 g water/100 g sand), to building a super-brain through super- yoga.
They may look like your typical group of middle schoolers---but beneath the hoodies and sneakers are 53 San Carlos students with curious brains and questioning spirits.
The student scientists from Tierra Linda, Central and Charter middle schools learned Monday night which of their experiments were finalists in the San Carlos School District’s annual science fair. The top 21 finalists will compete at the San Mateo County Science, Technology & Math (STEM) Fair in February. The awards ceremony was held in the library of Tierra Linda Middle School.
Since September, San Carlos School District Science Fair organizers Jayne Hastedt, Pam Louie and Nick Van Bruggen, along with other volunteer mentors, have guided the 53 students through the steps of scientific collaboration---from research and writing a hypothesis, to experimental design, data collection and analysis. The final projects were presented on large posters that were evaluated by a team of volunteer judges.
Hastedt explained that the group of volunteer mentors and judges (some parents, some community members) consisted of experienced scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and innovators. All have a passion for science, which was clearly reflected in their students’ final projects.
“We wanted to make science fun, and have the kids get excited and enthusiastic about their experiments,” said Hastedt, a scientist herself. Her company, JDP Pharma Consulting, helped set up the fair’s website, which was key in keeping the students on schedule and in providing a variety of mentoring materials, resources and rules.
Louie, who was the fair’s logistics coordinator, added that the volunteers also enjoy the opportunity to give back to the school community.
“It’s so critical to get kids excited about science at this level, and we all really wanted to give back and help develop that interest,” said Louie. She added that the San Carlos School District has implemented the hands-on FOSS curriculum in its elementary classes.
And the enthusiasm of the students seemed to linger well after the final Sharpies were capped and the last bit of data calculated.
Central fifth graders Eimon Amjadi and Sam Tillier were happy to discuss their findings on why Diet Coke causes a more explosive physical reaction when Mentos are added than regular Coke.
“We discovered there’s something called aspartame in Diet Coke,” said Sam.
“And it reacts with the Mentos and causes a physical reaction that makes the explosion of foam go higher,” added his scientific partner Eimon.
In all, 53 student scientists participated in the fair, producing 42 projects. After an hour or so of viewing the display of posters, organizers readied students for the big moment when the ribbons were handed out for the top projects.
Hastedt led off by telling the group how difficult the judging was.
“We are scientists, and therefore we have to look at data. We had 42 incredible projects this year---last year we had 25. This is a very tough competition and even if you don’t get a ribbon here today, it’s okay, because you are all winners, “ said Hastedt.
For more information on the San Carlos School District Science Fair, go to http://scsdsciencefair.org/SCSD_Science_Fair/About_SCSD_Science_Fair.html
For more information on Wednesday's Science Expo, go to www.sancarlosweekofthefamily.org/