Connoquenessing Valley Elementary science fair challenges students to 'think outside the box'

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

There was a bit of botany involved in Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School's sixth annual science fair.

“We're planting little seeds in their heads that science is fun,” said Carrie Hubler, science fair chairperson and member of the school's parent-teacher organization.

This was the second year for the PTO to organize the entire event and Hubler's second time with a science-fair focus. Students from kindergarten through the fourth grade volunteered to take part in the event.

“We had a lot more than last year,” said Hubler, a Cranberry resident. “One hundred and fifty two kids signed up. That's more than 20 percent of the school.”

The children rose to the occasion, coming up with unique and compelling ideas that stretched their creativity.

“We wanted them to think outside the box,” she said, recalling a few of the projects that caught her attention.

There was a catapult that shot marshmallows, geode, rock and shell collections, volcanoes, flower dyeing, and mixing candy and soda pop to watch it explode, just to name a few.

“There was one about smelling,” she said. “I thought the Swiss cheese smelled like cocoa butter, and I have a pretty good nose.”

While students answered questions from Seneca Valley seniors who roamed the cafeteria, others engaged in a scavenger hunt. The senior high students, “extra hands when we needed them,” Hubler said, made certain each child had the opportunity to explain the finished project.

“We wanted to pay attention to each kid individually,” Hubler said.

One mother sent a note, thanking her for singling out each child.

Josie Walters, 10, from Cranberry, brought a special friend to the fair, Cora, her corn snake. The fourth-grader used the reptile to show what senses snakes and humans share.

“A snake has its cochlea in its jaw,” she said. “They put their jaw against the ground to hear vibrations.”

While some of her students were shocked at seeing Cora, Josie said, they got used to it.

She credits Mrs. Gaydosz, her teacher, for getting her interested in science and the fair.

Jenna Brown, a student in Mrs. Tobin's class, also appreciated her teacher's encouragement to participate in the science fair.

The 9-year-old made a rainbow in a jar to explain the scientific principle of density.

“Me and my mom found it online,” she said.

With rubbing alcohol, corn syrup, water, olive oil, blue dish soap and food coloring, Jenna created bands of color.

“They were all the same amount, but they weighed differently,” she said.

Each band held its shape and didn't mix with the others.

Christin Jamery, acting principal at the school, found the fair as a “great way to experience project-based learning.” And she credited the PTO for organizing this successful event.

Parents and grandparents visited to support their children, Hubler, 37, a mother of two, said, and the community got behind the effort with donated prizes.

“I don't know how we'll top it next year,” she said. “I like supporting science and the little guys and girls.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or

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