Prairie Elementary science fair set for Wednesday

WORTHINGTON -- Community members are invited to the ninth annual Prairie Elementary Science Fair at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, with a total of 30 projects set to be displayed.

Prairie Elementary fourth-grader Bennett Oberloh is shown at last year's science fair last year. He and his partner, Ayden Stugelmeyer, captured third place in the family and consumer science category and second in the third-grade grade division. (Special to the Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Community members are invited to the ninth annual Prairie Elementary Science Fair at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, with a total of 30 projects set to be displayed.


Tasha Raymo, a second-grade teacher at Prairie, said 50 students from third and fourth grades have signed up this year to participate in the science fair. Experiments fall into four categories - Earth Science, Physical Science, Life Science and Family Consumer Science - and awards are given in categories for each grade level.


“It’s something extra for them to do, and I feel that they get more excited since it’s not just the teacher teaching them, but they have to learn it by themselves,” Raymo said.



Raymo explained that students have been preparing their experiments at home with their parents’ help since December. There is an additional prep day where teachers can assist the students with final details of the project.


Raymo noted that one of the most popular experiments each year has been volcanoes, but students this year have came up with more creative and challenging projects.


“There are more out-of-the-box experiments,” Raymo said. “They are just not volcanoes or a simple science project.”


Projects this year range from turning milk into plastic and how much water a diaper can hold to what kind of fertilizer works best on certain plants.



More than 30 judges will choose the best projects from 3 to 4:30 p.m. based on creativity, research and how well the students are able to answer questions. Students receiving awards will have the chance to compete at the regional science fair, scheduled for April in Mankato.


Fourth-grader Bennett Oberloh said he had a great experience participating in the fair last year, so he decided to give it another shot. He teamed up with Ayden Stugelmeyer in 2016 and they impressed the judges with their  “Brine vs. Water” project, earning third place in the Family and Consumer Science category and second place in the third-grade division.


This year, Oberloh is exploring - by himself this time - the daily use of simple machines such as wedges, pulleys and levers, and is trying to find out with surveys which machines people use the most in their daily lives.


“I have identified that light switches is a lever and that a door is a lever, too, so they are all over the place,” Oberloh said. “That’s why I think it will be the most use.”



Laurie Knudson, Prairie Elementary counselor, has been judging projects for the last four years, and said she always leaves the room having learned something new.


“I truly don't know where they come up with their ideas because I was like, ‘Oh,  I never thought about that before,”’ Knudson said.


She recalled seeing a student's findings one year on which brand of popcorn popped the best, as well as light results with photosynthesis.


“It’s an awesome way to see kids’ enthusiasm and creativity and channel that into something positive that can help them in the future with career opportunities,’ Knudson said.


Knudson explained that as a judge, she wants to see the collaboration with parents, but the students have to be the ones doing most of the work. She noted that another important aspect taken into account when judging is how well the student can communicate with her.

“I think it's OK for parents to help, but I want to see balance,” Knudson said. “It has to be focused on the student. I want the student to have a conversation with me.”

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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