Grades 6–8 Science Fair

Students in grades 6, 7, and 8 exhibited their science fair projects in the Great Hall on May 22. Nearly 70 students filled the room with their innovative and exciting displays focusing on a variety of topics, from the science of biodegradation to the psychology of eating. The event commenced with an introduction by Patty Lein, Director of Upper School, and Dave Morgan, Director of Innovation Lab @Ross.

Eighth grader Lucia Robinson tested the impact that physical plate arrangements—number of side dishes or shape of plates—have on how appetizing foods appear. She learned that most people gravitate to circular-shaped plates and prefer two garnishes to one. Seventh grader Caroline Breitweiser measured how quickly different brands of biodegradable garbage bags actually biodegrade. She measured the compostability of bags made by Bag to Nature, Glad, BioBag, and EcoSafe. “It was really interesting that Bag to Nature and EcoSafe didn’t compost quickly,” said Caroline. “They shouldn’t say they’re compostable, because they don’t break down easily.”

Seventh grader Peter Kim explored the effect highlighters have on comprehension and memorizing. He asked his test subjects to read two articles, using a highlighter for one of them. Afterward, he asked them to recite the key points of each article. Peter learned that using a yellow highlighter results in better retention of information. Seventh grader Carley Wootton analyzed whether or not the people’s age can be determined based on the scent of their clothing. And classmate Gideon Yektai looked to see if a person's age affects his or her perception of time. “What I found interesting was how inaccurate people can be about time,” he said.

Seventh grader Tristan Griffin studied the art of picking locks, testing an ancient Chinese lock, a pin tumbler lock, and a combination lock. “I thought you could listen to the clicks of a combination lock and pick it, but it turns out that’s only in Hollywood,” said Tristan, who learned that of the three, the combination lock is actually the hardest one to pick.

Throughout the fair, judges circulated around the room and spoke with the young, enthusiastic scientists about their projects, ultimately tallying a score. In seventh grade, first place went to Marco Marsans, who wanted to know if people who play video games have better hand/eye coordination than those who don’t; it turns out that there was no difference between the two groups. Second and third place went to Gideon and Carley, respectively. In eighth grade, Lucia took first, with second place going to Sunny Gou, who tested the rate at which people blink during various activities; third place went to Amanda Mintz, who tested how changing the ratio of vinegar to baking soda would affect the chemical reaction to lift a golf ball, coin, and ping pong ball. Lastly, Gregory Gropper won Honorable Mention for his experiment on whether greater amounts of liquid are needed to dilute different kinds of pollutants in aquifers that have more clay than sand; indeed, more liquid is needed.