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Column: WCS students shine at Country and Science Fair

WORTHINGTON -- On the morning of May 4 at Worthington Christian School, we had a gym full of excitement with our Country and Science Fair presentations from the third- to eighth-grade students. This event was a first for some students, but a practiced routine for others. Whatever kind of nervous anticipation filled each student, it was a day for them to show off the work and knowledge that they had been learning over the last several weeks and months.

Walking into the WCS gym, a banner representing various country flags hung stating the event as the Country Fair. Around the edges of the basketball court, tables were set up with presentation boards announcing the country or science project that was so diligently worked on. Next to each table, nervous students paced in front of their displays. Each student waited to educate the many guests who came to visit the fair event. As anxious as the students were, there were also teachers standing in the background who tried to assure their students that they were prepared for this day and were praying for them to be calm enough to share the many things they had learned.

As the event progressed parents, grandparents, friends and supporters milled from one presentation to another. Many asked questions or enjoyed tasting the various treats that highlighted the country of their research or watched as science was hypothesized, tested, analyzed and proven. It was extremely nerve-wracking for the students during the brief time of the event, but it was rewarding to see them share knowledge with all of the visitors.

For the third- and fourth- graders, this event focused on the study and display of any country around the world. This is a culmination of a year-long study about communities, countries and cultures in Social Studies. They looked at the growth and depletion of communities around the world, the differences in cultures dealing with language, music, clothing, food and many other things. The students also enjoyed learning about the many different cultures in our community. Through our discussion we decided the most evident ways to differentiate between various cultures were language, clothing and food. This allowed us to explore how we interact with these differences even in our own classroom. We learn from each others differences, but also realized this was a way God created us to all be unique. He gave us many abilities and skills to adapt to the places we live -- like the way we plant and harvest crops, the clothes we wear that keep us cool or warm in the different climates, or the music that expresses our thoughts. All of this then led to the final part of the study, an end-of-the-year project. The students were asked to research a country that interests them. Many chose countries that relatives had visited recently, others were chosen because of their heritage, others chose their country because of the firsthand information they received from their parents' experiences from growing up in these countries. The various countries picked were Italy, Liberia, Russia, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Scotland and Ethiopia. Students included items such as wooden shoes and jewelry boxes to highlight their country. Many also included pictures of the country side or landmarks, and described their country's flag or national tree or flower. Each student also was required to make a special treat and also tell about a famous person from that country.

The fifth- through eighth-grade students were led by Mrs. Pam Slagter in doing various science experiments. This event allowed these students to highlight the different aspects of science that they had been studying throughout the year. Some of the most unique projects included the reaction of different types of pop to a Mentos candy. Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke were put to the test. The surprising result was a bubbling bottle of Diet Coke. Another surprise was the reaction Ivory soap has in the microwave. Instead of just melting like you might expect, the makeup of this soap causes it to actually expand into a foam-like substance. Another test was investigating the qualities of "gloop," which is a mixture of cornstarch and water. The question of the project was whether the substance was a solid or a liquid. Was it both? In the end, the most important outcome was to give students an opportunity to show the intricate way God works in the world around us and many times in the strange and unique properties of products that we have around our own homes. What an awesome way for students to really show off the great knowledge of God's handiwork.

By the end of our Country and Science Fair on Friday, guests had been treated to a trip around the world and a science extravaganza. The students had accomplished their goals of educating others and staying calm. Congratulations, third- and fourth-graders! I am so proud of all of your hard work. Congratulations, fifth- through eighth-graders! You did a great job.

Annette Bosma is a third- and fourth-grade teacher at Worthington Christian School.