The Bloomfield Township Library smelled, looked, and sounded very different during the recent Five Senses Science and Art Fair featuring students from Eastover Elementary and East Hills Middle School.
Media Specialist Cindy Livingston loves serving as a mentor-judge for the event because both the process and the outcomes are so positive for students. Livingston explains, "It's important for students to have the opportunity to do this type of event because they are choosing what they want to explore. Then, to have the chance to go into a bigger community in the public and talk to different adults and different kids, sharing what they have learned in a teaching format is powerful for the students. Not only does it encourage them but gives them an avenue to teach others about what they have become an expert in." Livingston sees the students once a week in the Eastover library where students often ask for help regarding ideas or research. In conjunction, the Bloomfield Township Public library had after school events to help kids cull and gather research, narrow down their topic, and take additional steps in the process. "The kids always just floor me with their knowledge," exclaims Livingston. "I always feel like my curiosity lights up once I'm talking to them. I probably spend too much time with each one because they have delved into topics I don't know the answers to. Through their research and their experiments and explorations they are answering questions and coming up with conclusions that I had no idea about before this event. It's a really cool, empowering reverse where I'm usually the teacher, but here I'm the student, soaking in all this information that the student is teaching me."
Omair Raziuddin, seventh-grader from East Hills, explored whether or not someone can make a basketball shot every single time, choosing the project because of being on the basketball team. "I always get mad when I miss some shots, especially easy shots, so I decided that I needed to find a way to do this. My hypothesis was that I did not think that someone could make a shot 100 percent of the time, especially humans. However, I found that for robots it is possible," Omair said, pointing to a video in his display area of a life-size robot making free throw baskets over and over. Omair explained why this is possible with robots, saying, "There is an equation that goes through the robot each time in its programming. The reason why humans can't make similar shots is because their brain tells them how to shoot the shots differently each time which results in all of the misses." Part of the project involved researching NBA historical statistics that showed no players who made all of their shots. "They missed a lot!," Omair said. "I learned that humans are limited in their ability to do things, but robots have no limitations." Omair definitely would do the Science Fair again. "I learned a lot of new stuff about something I really like. Now when I play the game, I can act like I know everything."
Avani Nandalur from Eastover chose to do an art project for the event. "I always wondered what we might look like in the future. We might not look like humans anymore. We might look like robots," Aavni mused. The left side of the drawing was a contemporary depiction of a person with buildings in the background, where the right side was more futuristic with the same person now as a robot and the buildings completely modernized. Avani said there was a specific process to create the art piece. "I made a picture about what today would look like. I showed a picture of our house and what it looks like now. Then I drew a picture from 90 to 100 years later. There might not be the same stores. I first made one person that had two arms and two legs, then I traced it to make it even for the other side. I also found pictures of robots and put them together to make my own."
Colleen Pettengill, eighth grader at East Hills, did a project looking at the effects of gravity on impact craters. Colleen was inspired by a classroom activity, explaining, "We did a science project in eighth grade where we had to figure out how energy transforms and transfers in a system. Because I love space, I decided to do a space-related project. I wanted to see how gravity affects the depth of an impact crater, so I took an electromagnet to simulate gravity and calculated it to be between 12 and 24 volts. Then I took away the 9.8 meters per second of gravity that the earth has by hanging it on a swinging arm." Based on the research, Colleen discovered that gravity varies based on the size of the planet. "Here on earth, our gravity is 1G, but on the planet Mercury that I used for my experiment it is 0.01G."
A colorful exhibit about Pluto was designed and presented by Eastover third-grader Lilla Lanivich. "The thing I enjoyed most was that I got to learn so much about Pluto," Lilla said. "I got to teach my friends a lot and my family a lot. I used books from the township library, and I also read a few articles. My sister helped me on this, too." Of all the research, Lilla highlighted one that most people don't know. "One of my favorite facts is the 'I Heart Pluto' because Pluto actually has a heart shape on it. It's basically ice because Pluto is made of ice, gas, and rocks."
Parent Shannon Curcuru loves the Science Fair experience and the theme of the Five Senses for this year's event, saying it matched well with Eastover third-grader Avery Curcuru's interests. "Her passion is animals, and there are a lot of differences between animal senses and human senses," Shannon explains. "It's amazing what you can retain and comprehend when you are following a passion or interest." The Curcurus went to Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan, to start their project research, learning the process of how Leader Dogs are raised and what senses they use to help people. That was followed by additional research and comparisons. "It's actually kind of simple, but it's a way for her to never forget this experience," Shannon says. "I'm excited about the fact that my child can take her learning to another level, and that she has something that she can own and be proud of where she gets to share her thoughts and ideas."
Trey Cooper, a third-grader at Eastover, didn't have an exhibit but attended the Science Fair. The color-changing slime exhibit was a favorite. "I wanted to learn a lot," said Trey. "I'm into a lot of science. It's really cool. I like making experiments and building stuff."
Eastover kindergartener Camden Kraft did a project on snakes, pointing out the many features on the presentation board that were discovered during the research. "They are reptiles, cold-blooded, have scales, are different colors, are predators, and lay eggs." Pythons were the favorite species. "They don't hurt people," Camden assured those who stopped by.
Sibling-duo Charlie and Quinn Newell explained their project. "We tried to make happy plants grow so we decided to try music and different liquids." said Quinn. A fifth grader at East Hills, Charlie's idea was to try music. "I picked Beethoven and Electric Light Orchestra. Beethoven worked better because ELO fell on the floor," Charlie explained, gesturing to the music player in their exhibit. Quinn, in first grade at Eastover, picked pop music by child star Jo-Jo Siwa. For liquids, the duo used a variety. Quinn listed all of the different types, "We did milk, carbonated water, plain water, and we also did lemonade." In the end, the liquids helped the plants grow the most with plain water being the best choice. Both students had a great experience they said. "The most fun thing was playing the music with Charlie," emphasized Quinn.
The Science and Art Fair is an annual event and is sponsored by the Eastover and East Hills Parent-Teacher Organizations. PTO parent Kelly Newell, who co-chaired the event with Libby Welch, notes, "It was a wonderful celebration of two communities coming together. We were fortunate to partner with the Bloomfield Township Public Library and host several workshops for students as they chose a topic, researched, and completed their science fair experiments. We appreciate all of the students who did experiments, research, and inventions along with our mentors from the community who talked with students about their projects and awarded them with ribbons in the areas of presentation, creativity, innovation, curiosity, and investigation."