Middle school students at the Fell Charter School recently showcased their science know-how and creative talents at the school’s 2017 science fair. Organized by science teacher Jamie Seymour, the event gave participating students a way to expand what they had learned in school into projects that addressed their own unique areas of interest.

The projects on display covered a wide range of topics including psychological studies, consumer product testing, physical science experiments, and chemistry-based experiments. Some students, like Jakob Wittenbreder, chose to build working models featuring current or historical technology. Jakob, whose project earned him a third place win in the 8th grade group, built a working telegraph machine for the science fair.

“Jakob built a working telegraph machine and memorized Morse code for his science fair project. He showed great memory skill because he had to be able to memorize the code for the whole alphabet and then tap out the words,” explained Mary Jo Walsh, school principal.

Jakob developed an interest in Morse code after studying World War I and II in his world cultures class. “After reading about it in school, I became very interested in how Morse code was used, so I decided to build a telegraph machine for the science fair,” said Jakob, who had a little help from his father with the actual construction of the project.

There were many other interesting projects at the science fair, including product testing to find out which brand of nail polish is the most durable, a study of the effect of temperature on magnets, a study to see if water can be purified using electrolysis, and a study of the density of various liquids.

A panel of judges assessed the projects using specific criteria, then awarded first, second, and third place prizes in for each grade. Overall first, second, and third place winners were also chosen from among all of the entries. Students with the winning entries in each grade received certificates and ribbons in recognition of their project’s excellence. Overall winners also received trophies.

The 1st place winner in 6th grade was Alice Davis with “Crushing Cans with Pressure,” an investigation of what happens to a can when air pressure is changed. In 2nd place was Tyler Williams who asked “Does Toothpaste Really Work?” Tyler grew bacteria samples before and after using dental products to determine the effectiveness of toothpaste. The 3rd place winner in grade 6 was Autumn Campbell with “Inflating Balloons with Pop Rocks,” a fun project investigating the chemical reaction that takes place when Pop Rocks are poured into soda.

7th grade winners were Julia Webb’s study “Does Chocolate Effect Academic Success?” Julia prepared tests for subjects and compared results when the subjects completed the tests with and without chocolate. Julia earned 1st place both in her grade and overall. In 2nd place for her grade level and the 3rd place overall winner was Reina Maldanado with “Do Gummy Bears Grow?” Reina investigated how osmosis works and compared the results with different solutions to see if gummy bears would absorb them. MacKenzie Jackson’s “Zodiac Feelings” earned her a 3rd place win. MacKenzie recruited 24 test subjects and had them complete a survey to investigate if Zodiac descriptions match people’s actual personalities.

The 8th grade winners were Collin Gazella’s “Dreamscapes,” an investigation of how extraneous stimuli affect a person’s dreams. Collin’s project was the 1st place winner for his grade level and the 2nd place winner overall. In 2nd place was Stephen Stolarik, whose “A Battery That Makes Cents” project utilized spare change to create a working battery. The 3rd place winner in 8th grade was Jakob Wittenbreder with “Dots and Dashes,” a working telegraph machine.

Students’ families and friends were invited to attend an evening session of the science fair in order to view all of the students’ projects, to watch some students demonstrate how their projects and experiments worked, and to learn the results of the judging that had taken place earlier in the day.