News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 17, 2014
Sedgwick Science fair draws winning conclusion

Fourth grader Chloe Sheahan at the Sedgwick School Science Fair

Fourth grader Chloe Sheahan explains how she proved that plants need light to grow straight at the Sedgwick School Science Fair on April 9. Sheahan won “best in show” for second through fourth graders for her project.

by Anne Berleant

Start with the hypothesis that elementary students can do original science. Then guide them through the steps of the scientific method and, as a last step, showcase their inventive projects, such as “Holy Poop,” in which fourth grader Dalton Hamilton proves that horse manure has heat value.

“I have not seen a bad project,” said Principal Donald Buckingham at the Sedgwick school science fair on April 9.

Projects like Crazy Crystal Creation, Floating Eggs and Blowing Bottle Tops filled the gymnasium, and students easily explained how they proved their starting hypothesis true or false through their materials, procedure and observation of data.

“They got frustrated at points,” said second grade teacher Brenda Monteith. “Then they learned from it.”

Chloe Sheahan, who won “best in show” for second through fourth grade for proving that plants need light to grow straight, said, “I think the hardest thing was probably application” of her procedure.

Sedgwick Elementary School in coastal Maine held its first science fair on April 9, 2014. Students started with a hypothesis and then had to use the scientific process to prove it correct or incorrect—and have a lot of fun doing so. Video by Anne Berleant

Sixth grader Corey Dewey discovered the best temperature to use for optimal antacid results. “I found that if you put a ground up Alka Seltzer tablet in 75 degree water, you get the best use,” he said.

With nearly all of the project work done during school hours, most parents were seeing the projects for the first time.

“I was interested but a lot of it was kept under wraps,” said Keith Kastelic, whose daughter, Althea Kastelic, won “best in show” for fifth through eighth grade. “I had to come here to find out all the secrets.”

“We wanted to make sure everybody had a fair shot,” said Buckingham.

Second through eighth grade students from Sedgwick, Maine show off their mastery of the scientific method at a science fair on April 9, 2014. Photos by Anne Berleant

All followed the proper scientific method and were judged on originality, research, the creativity of the starting question and the project variables.

“They got the scientific method down fully,” said third and fourth grade teacher Sharon Longley.

But not everyone could be science fair prize winners.

“I was proud of how the students didn’t fall apart,” said Monteith. “They did really well with that piece of it.”

The best part overall?

“They learned to think,” said Longley. “Outside the box.”