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Mt. Pleasant Area students showcase smarts at science fairs

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:20 p.m.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Morgan Frye, 7 explains her project titled 'What is a beach?' to teacher Rachel Long during the gifted students science fair held recently at Norvelt Elementary School.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Cameron Wojnar, 7, of Rumbaugh Elementary School created solar-powered grasshoppers for the gifted students science fair at Ramsay Elementary School.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Maggie Dextradeur, 8, (left) explains her volcano project to Faith King, 12, at a gifted students science fair held at Ramsay Elementary School.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Lane Golkosky, 8, demonstrates his project on what type of ball will travel the farthest using a whiffleball, which was projected the longest distance during a science fair held at Donegal Elementary School.

Mt. Pleasant Area elementary students recently showcased their talents during the district's annual science fairs.

Students in the gifted program, as well as sixth-grade students from Donegal, Norvelt and Ramsay and Rumbaugh elementary schools participated in the events.

The gifted students were not graded on their projects. However, sixth-graders received grades for projects they completed.

Gifted instructor Rachel Long said she distributed a rubric and information packet to the students to help them prepare to take part in the fair.

Students devised ideas for their projects, some with help from their parents, Long said.

Parents and each student's teacher approved the project ideas, she said.

“They look forward to the science fair every year. Some are already thinking about what they want to do next year,” she said.

Long explained that the fair was not a competition, but rather a hands-on project to get the students thinking and applying their knowledge to the scientific method, research and application.

There were many creative projects this year, she said, including those which involved the use of solar-powered bugs, the investigation of fossils, the testing of electricity traveling through different types of wire, slime molds, volcanoes, crystallization experiments and the effects of freezing Orbeez.

Many of the students did not use the Internet to collect information, Long said.

Seventeen Ramsay Elementary students participated, along with two students from Rumbaugh Elementary.

Some of the projects completed by those students included a volcano, a fossil display and solar-powered grasshoppers.

Elijah Wilson, 11, tested his research using eggs packaged in three different materials including feathers, Styrofoam and cotton balls, he said.

Wilson demonstrated to his fellow students that the cotton balls and Styrofoam protected the eggs much better than the feathers.

Five Norvelt Elementary students participated by completing projects including one that answered the question, “What is a beach?”

Another involved testing the validity of the time-entrusted, weather-related adage: “A red sky at night is a sailor's delight, but a red sky in the morning is a sailor's warning.”

Brady Hunker, 12, utilized the Internet, weather reports and photographs to determine that the saying was meteorologically correct, he said.

Hunker logged photographs and weather reports on a calendar and explained to fellow students what atmospheric occurrences cause the sky colors.

Eight Donegal Elementary students took part, including sixth-grader Taylor Bair.

For her project, Bair said she discovered that blue rock candy crystals grew faster than green, orange or red. Her experiment took 22 days from start to finish, using sugar, water and food coloring, she said.

Ramsay/Rumbaugh Principal Lance Benteler said the fair has been an annual event for at least six years. He added it helps the students learn to research and follow through to explain their discoveries.

“And it gives the parents the opportunity to visit the schools and participate in their children's activities,” Benteler said.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or