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West Elementary Students Show Off Science Fair Projects
by Sarah Guinn Messenger Staff Journalist
Did you know smiling really is contagious? Lexie Watson, a sixth grader at West Elementary used the scientific method to test her hypothesis, and found that yes, smiling is contagious.
Parents, students, and teachers filled the school's cafeteria and adjacent hallway for the annual science fair Monday, which featured projects from fourth, fifth and sixth graders. The sixth graders competed for a chance to go to the district science fair coming up in the spring, said science teacher Todd Bean.
The students had about six weeks to complete the project, and were given free reign as far as the topics, said fourth grade teacher Susan Matters.
Sixth grader Gavin Haning loves music, he said, and wanted to find out how music affects the movies we watch.
"I was interested in finding out if movie scene of the same type are accompanied by music with similar characteristics," he said.
Gavin watched scenes from a number of movies, including Cars, Frozen, E.T., and Beauty and the Beast, to name a few, and listened for rising or falling scales, the pitch of the melody, and whether it was in a major or minor scale. He also used a metronome to record the tempo of the music.
He concluded filmmakers do use musical characteristics of the same type in certain scenes to provoke certain feelings and emotions, he said.
Fellow sixth grader Forest Simpkins wanted to know why some store-bought milk lasted longer than others. This was a natural question for Forest because his family owns a small dairy farm that produces unpasteurized milk, which is not heated prior to drinking and tends to last about three weeks in the refrigerator, he said.
"I was curious to see if the milk really did spoil at such drastically different rates, so I have researched which milk lasts longer under refrigeration," he said.
Forest ran tests for non-pasteurized, pasteurized, and ultra-pasteurized milk to see how the spoiling rates came out.
Unfortunately, more time was needed to reach an accurate conclusion, with not one of his refrigerated milks spoiling in the time he ran his research. But, when stored at room temperature, he found the ultra-pasteurized milk took the longest to show signs of spoilage, he said.
This year's science fair was the first time fifth grade was involved, and more than 70 projects were available for browsing, Bean said.