25 Oct 2014

Science Fair 2014

Recently our science co-op teamed up with another group to organize a science fair. The science fair was a success, overwhelming crowd. :)

Prior to the science fair, our little science group had spent about a year studying forensic science and wanted to end it with a science fair so the children could showcase what they'd learnt. But since we're such a small group, it was lovely to collaborate with Florence's dynamic co-op group, and that's how the science fair came to be.

Our Forensic Science group of children created this lovely poster.

Although we had several months to prepare for the science fair, procrastinator me, started working with the children rather last minute...something which I vow  think I'll never do again.

Both Jo and Nel decided they wanted to do different topics. Actually they had no choice. Out of our group of 10 children, in the end only 6 participated in the fair, which meant that each carried the responsibility of presenting one aspect of forensic science.

Jo chose to research Blood Spatter Patterns, and Nel chose to study "The Effects of different solvents on Paper Chromatography."

Jo's Project
The Science Fair day came, and it was hectic! Thankfully we had set up some of the stuff a night before. During the fair,

I had to help Jo who had too many things going on at her booth, namely:-
                  -a poster on her project (Blood Spatter Pattern),
                  - an experiment on identifying blood type, 
                  -and making gory slime (though most people stayed away from gory and chose happy                          colours.) 

Above is Jo's display board. She typed, designed and organized most of it herself. Well, she learnt the definition of hypothesis, objective, variables, how to run procedures, analysis and how to create graphs. I'm not sure if she still remembers it all now, but I'm sure it's somewhere in her memory. :) What a task for a 9 year old but she did it mostly with zest and zeal.
During her project she learnt stuff such as viscosity, velocity, diameters and circumference, point of impact, angles, analysis of droplets, etc.

The above board was a product of multiple experiments conducted by Jo which resulted in her messing up close to half the entire house with her very messy blood spatter experiments.

Like a true detective, somedays she took her experiment outdoors. Phew for this mummy, and hooray for the ants that get a taste of her syrupy-homemade-fake-blood.

Designing her poster

Apart from blood spatter, Jo spent lots of time creating slime in the kitchen. We made them gory, and they looked like intestines, red-gory liver, oozing blood. She was so ready to sell those. But at the science fair, I think, all but one of her customers, chose to make pretty pink, yellow and green slime. Her booth was popular, and there was a half hour queue for participants wanting to make slime. I had no choice but to help her. Back breaking! 

Jo's Slime booth.
Nel's Project

Because I had to help Jo, Nel had to handle her booth alone, and she did it well.
               Her booth consisted of :
              -her project display on Paper Chromatography, 
             -a chromatography experiment (analysis of ink content to find pen used on murder scene)
            - and a chromatography art activity (butterfly/dragonfly with patterns from chromatography)

Above is Nel's display booth. And like Jo, she had to type and arrange it all herself. Being mostly a dreamer and one who tends to work more slowly, this was hard work for her. There were all sorts of things she had to learn, from the definition of polarity in chemistry, to discovering solvents, mixing different percentages of alcohol with water to see how it affects chromatography, to discovering molecules and etc etc.  A lot of times we had to read articles and discover stuff together.

Yes, we could've just done the experiment in a basic way and get on with it. But I believe it's more worth it when we discover the Why's and How's behind the experiment. Some information was way beyond her level, and we might revisit this topic again in the future.

 When I asked Nel what she learnt most from this project, she replied "To start way ahead of time...to be more careful when observing, to be more careful when organizing materials and information."

I think that itself made the science project worthwhile. It's not just the facts, but life lessons that come with it. The experiment requires lots of waiting time,..... but at times, she wondered off reading a book, or feeding the strays in the back alley, leaving her experiment far too long. This ruined quite a bit of her experiment, which she had to redo.

When it came to analysis, she found that if she had only organized her tonnes of paper properly, it would have been easier to find information. She spent lots of time calculating Rf factor, comparing results of her experiment.

At one point a visitor spilled some water and ruined part of her experiment which she then had to redo for the third time. Not fun at all. :( She ended up working till 3am for 2 days, and was close to a massive melt down. Lesson learnt...always keep your stuff in a safe place.

During the fair, this child of mine was nervous. She is an introvert, uncomfortable among new people and large crowds. She had to choice but to mend her booth alone, and I'm proud that, hey she did it! and did it well too. :)

 Nel's first visitor, trying out her chromatography art. The three glasses on her left are for a chromatography experiment where visitors analyze three different pens to determine the pen used at the crime scene which our co op set up.

Her booth was popular, and I think she had more than she could handle but handled it well. 

Lesson I learnt....in the future, for the sanity of parent, have both girls work on similar or related projects to avoid stress and going bonkers, and to save cost.

Lesson learnt by Nel -Work ahead, wayyyy ahead to avoid staying up to 3am several days in a row just before the date of exhibition.  Be careful, and guard experiment results and materials carefully to avoid the stress of redoing the same experiments multiple times! Be patient and observe experiment carefully to avoid spoilt results.

Lesson learnt by Jo - Avoid doing messy experiments in mum's kitchen because it means massive clean up and a roaring mum. Do not be too ambitious, and focus. Observation is very very important otherwise it means inaccurate results which result in redoing.
A note she placed on her poster board. Note...she added "thank goodness my mum's not a neat freak." haha...

Focusing on projects is a great way of learning for us. Although they were science projects, girls had to write/type their projects out. I made sure to check grammar and discuss with them.
Science of course, involves lots of maths. There was also lots of research and reading of related materials. Time management, sourcing for information, comparing, analyzing, reasoning, etc etc. An invaluable experience.

Finally...although I brought my camera, I didn't get many pictures, and I regret not having time to visit the other booths because we were so busy at our booth. A few random shots i managed to take:

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2014


Divoo said...

Wow! There's always so much to see, appreciate, learn, and wonder about in your posts, Martha! What a wonderful job your girls did at the science fair! You must be such a proud parent! :) I can imagine what kinda mess the blood splatter experiment would have created in your house... lol! :D Well done, Nel and Jo!

gail said...

You have all been on my mind so much.

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