by Andrea Cox
Community Collaborations Director
On Tuesday, January 29th, United Way of Salt Lake City staff had the opportunity to participate as Science Fair Judges at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, one of UWSL’s Neighborhood Centers. Students created displays of various science experiments that included everything from growing sugar crystals, to observing how quickly pets learn tricks, to exploding sodas! Student participants ranged in age from 3rd through 6th grade. The top 3 winners from each grade received the opportunity to display their experiment at the Granite District Science Fair later this Spring!
Judges were divided among the various groups of students and given guidelines that helped them ask questions about the student’s experiments. Some of these questions included finding out what the student’s “big question” was — what they wanted to find out, how they tested their hypothesis, and how they came to their ultimate conclusion. Students were judged based on how well they applied the scientific method to their big question, presentation ability, knowledge about their experiment, and why they decided to display their findings how they did. Some students included props such as bottles of soda, while others opted to print out colorful pictures, or display pictures of Fido choosing which toy he liked to play with best.
One judge, Isabel Rojas, said, “It was a lot of fun being a part of the Science Fair! I was really impressed with the student’s knowledge about their particular experiments and how well they all worked together!”
Personally, my mind was blown by some of the projects…especially the heat retention project. This group of students connected the idea of salt water heat retention to its effect on marine life and global warming. Sharp 6th graders!
Another judge, Linda Turkington, was reminded that although these students are future scientists and engineers, there are some questions they hadn’t considered. She asked one group of students who conducted their experiment using themselves as test subjects if they felt it “created bias in their findings.” After a few confused glances and a brief silence, Linda realized that they likely didn’t know what the word “bias” meant and reworded her question. Everyone had a good laugh about that later!
Overall, the Science Fair was a big success at Woodrow Wilson this year and the UWSL staff enjoyed participating so much, they requested that they come back next year – but this time in lab coats and horn-rimmed glasses. Hopefully, having participated the year before won’t create any bias!
“I would personally like to thank Lindsey Edwards for securing the Science Fair judges this year. The students who participated came from diverse backgrounds, and for some of these students this is the first project that they have completed using the Scientific Process. Without the teachers instruction in the understanding of the Scientific Process, the students would not be able to create the presentations and displays for the judges to evaluate. The Science Fair is a fun way to experience and experiment with a variety of topics that interest the student. They take the experiment from the abstract question to the concrete while investigating the use of a controlled variable. They write a hypothesis and investigate if their hypothesis was correct while performing the experiment. Many of the students found something new while conducting their experiment while others confirmed what they knew. I cannot express my profound appreciation to the United Way of Salt Lake in allowing the Collective Impact Department the opportunity to be our judges. I hope that the experiences that they had while talking with our students was informative and revealing. I would like to personally thank all those who came and offer an invitation for the Collective Impact department and others to come back next year and see more outstanding student projects at Woodrow Wilson Elementary.”