Students think big at Forysthe Science Fair (with photo slideshow)

A life-size blue whale at the Forsythe Science Fair was just one of many natural wonders to discover.

–By Tara Cavanaugh

Forsythe Middle School science teacher Dan Ezekiel isn’t sure if the school’s annual science fair really is the biggest one in the state, but he calls it that anyway: “No one’s corrected us yet!” With more than 400 student participants and 300 projects on display Feb. 11-12, there was opportunity for all students to explore science in their own way.

The titles of the experiments and models showed tests on everything from the everyday (“Bread mold”), parent edicts (“Are your parents right? Does TV really affect your memory?”), the unusual (“Do you get wetter running, walking, or standing in rain?”) and the environmental (“Gas fracking”). Several projects also explored different ways to answer that everlasting question: “Who’s better: boys or girls?”

The school has held the fair for more than 25 years, but this year marked the first time the hearing impaired and cognitively impaired classes participated. The two classes worked with the resource math class to create a life-size blue whale. Stretching 89 feet long and 8 feet tall at its highest, the whale lay beached in the cafeteria and was explored by students and adults alike (even if the adults had a slightly more difficult time crawling into its mouth). Inside, the whale was lined with lights and facts about blue whales.

The whale was made with plastic sheeting and masking tape, explained Chelsi McKnight, a teacher for the hearing impaired class.

“We applied a lot of the fractions before we got to the whale parts,” said Ty Robbins, a special education teacher. “We were measuring using fractions, inches and centimeters, so we had to learn all that in order to get to this place.”

Robbins’ resource learning class is for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. “Math is usually hard for our students,” she said, “but when they get to do something like this, it makes everything so much easier.”

At the end of the day, the winners were announced in a ceremony in the auditorium. Ezekiel kindly reminded the students that even though not all of them were going to take home a certificate or a medal, the experience was worth it.

“Raise your hand if you worked harder on the project than you thought you would,” he said. The students’ hands shot in the air. “That makes you a winner.”

See pictures of the life-size whale and the science fair in the slideshow below.

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