MSES experiments with projects
Looking at and enjoying the color of leaves isn't uncommon around Baldwin City, but Marion Springs Elementary School fifth-grader Sharelle Thornton took her examination one step further.
For her project for the Douglas County Science Fair, Thornton studied the pigment found in 10 different colored leaves.
"I wanted to show people how many other different colors are in leaves," she said.
By rubbing the leaves on filter paper and then soaking the filter paper in acetone, Thornton, with the help of a magnifying glass, was able to view the variety of pigments that made up each leaf's color.
"It sort of turned out like I thought it would," she said of her science project. "But I thought there would be less colors."
Thornton's project was just one of about 40 projects that MSES students entered into the Douglas County Science Fair last week.
MSES fifth-grade teacher Charlene Potter said the school has entered projects in the county science fair for at least the last 25 years.
"It's kind of been the way of life out here," Potter said. "Everyone contributes."
She said the kindergartners work on three class projects, the first through fourth graders pair up on projects and the fifth graders each have their individual projects.
The students start working on the experiments after winter break, Potter said.
"The longest step is getting them to commit to a project," she said.
To help them along, she said teachers will often offer suggestions to the students.
"We try to match them up with something they are interested in," she said.
Once ideas are formulated, she said students will work on their projects for the next two months with most of the work being completed in the classrooms.
"The last week is pretty frantic because they're putting them together," she said.
The projects are then displayed the Tuesday before the county science fair, she said, so parents and friends have a chance to see them completed.
The following day, Potter said all of the students ride up to the Douglas County Fairgrounds to enter their projects.
"We all go up together and set them up," she said. "That's part of the fun of it. And they enjoy seeing the other projects up there."
She said MSES has continued the science projects year after year because of what the students get out of them.
"Our school is dedicated to doing a lot of hands-on projects," she said. "They learn so much by doing them."
MSES third-grader Zachary McElmurry said he learned something from his project, which he worked on with his partner, second-grader Jayce Flory.
"We were testing the strengths of recycle paper and new paper," McElmurry said. "We found out the new paper was stronger."
He said that's not what he thought would happen.
"I thought the recycle paper would be stronger," he said. "But Jayce was right. He thought the new paper would be stronger."
Potter said the students seem to enjoy working on their projects.
"I've never had anybody say I don't want to do one," she said. "I've enjoyed talking to former students, some might be in high school, some might be out of high school, but they can remember exactly what they did for their projects."
Thornton, who has completed other science experiments in past years, said she was pleased with her final project.
"I'm glad I got to do this one," she said. "I think this one is probably my favorite."