Answers to questions one would ask an expert were easily found at the Environmental Science Fair at Folger McKinsey Elementary School on Monday evening when families arrived to view the fourth and fifth-grade exhibits. And, the students were ready to talk about their findings as any budding scientist would.
Having been named a National Green Ribbon School on the same day of the fair was coincidental but the variety of projects displayed in the school's new auditorium demonstarted why the school had earned the distinction.
From experimenting with growing grass and tomatoes to windmills and water, every aspect of the environment was covered with research, documentation, exhibits and posters. All the scientists had 28 days to complete their projects.
When asked how he came up with the idea for his project, fifth-grader Matt Bredeck said he was walking home from school one day when he noticed that some lawns "just didn't look so good."
He took that observation and turned them into his science project by planting seeds into different environments. After 25 days of watching and watering, top soil emerged as the winner. Through his experiment, Matt learned that planting seeds in sand didn't hold the moisture and clay was too dense for the seed to root.
His friend and neighbor at the science fair, Daniel Seeman, displayed "Home Sweet Biome" because "I was curious if plants would grow in different environments," he said.
Seeman's findings were that plants "grew faster and more thorougly because of consistently warm temperatures."
"Hopefully they learned a lot about saving the environment to become smarter citizens," said Jim Whisman, lead science teacher who instructs fifth grade. The inspiration for the environmental theme came from the new school being "green" he said.
Fourth-graders Sarah Jeffers and Nadia AlJunaidi studied windmills and went into detail on their poster on their findings.
Saejal Warner, 11, studied tomatoes for 25 days. She learned that they grow best in good old yard dirt, not fertilizer-rich potting soil.
Community members and teachers judged the projects. There were no awards or prizes, just good old recognition for participation, said Whisman. One project from each grade will be chosen to be entered into the county fair.