This time, no one was joking about something gross in the school cafeteria.
Sixth- and eighth-grade science students at Dillard Drive Middle School had prepared plenty of “Gross Goo” and “Elephant Toothpaste” in their cafeteria, just in time for the onslaught of second-graders. But no one would be eating the slimy stuff.
Teacher Joann Blumenfeld’s students led a science fair last week as part of the N.C. Science Festival, teaching Dillard Drive Elementary students basic scientific concepts such as bat echolocation and genetics.
“What I hope they take away from the experience is learning science, learning how to be leaders and teachers and helping others,” Blumenfeld said. “We have also recently participated in a community service project at Lake Crabtree to learn about plants and animals in the area and to help clear the area of invasive species. I love seeing my students in leadership roles.”
Eighth-grader Robert Sedkamp demonstrated how to roll sheets of paper into a rocket cylinder. “When scientists build real rockets, they have to make everything just perfect,” he said. “But with the paper ones, we just get to have fun.”
Second-graders fashioned their own rockets, then jumped on the “launch pad” to provide lift off.
Sophia Gonzalez, an eighth-grader, worked with second-grade students to figure out which genetic traits they had inherited. “We looked at things like dimples, hairline and earlobe attachment, and for each trait, they used multicolored beads to make a bracelet.”
At the other end of the cafeteria, second-graders built paper flying machines and whirligigs. Seventh-grader Ethan Sigmon helped roll loops of paper and tape them to a straw to make an unusual paper airplane.
“Gravity is a universal force, and yet birds defy gravity,” said Sigmon. “The second-graders really like to test the gliders and experiment with the design.”
Allen Thomas, a sixth-grader, liked helping the younger students make a homemade harmonica. “We used two popsicle sticks and two rubber bands, and I think it was a good experience for the little kids. I loved being a helper.”
By the end of the afternoon science fair, second-graders had plotted their birthdays on a chart, learned about wind, rolled marbles down a foam course and mixed gooey substances. Best of all, they got to spend time with older students at the middle school.
“I am so proud of these students’ accomplishments,” said Blumenfeld. “This science fair was a true opportunity for my students to shine.”