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Fair Success Young Scientists Bloom
What color crayon melts the fastest when put under heat? Which kind of fruit has the most vitamin C when it is juiced?

These were just some of the questions young scientists at Van Allen Elementary School attempted to answer during their 'Science Fair' hosted at the school on Jan. 27. For the first time, students put together projects that posed a question, listed the hypothesis offered by the student and then, through a series of tests, either proved or disproved the individual student's theory.

"I learned that pineapple has more vitamin C," explained fifth grader Lexi Romero, who earned a first place ribbon for her project.

Like many, she thought oranges would prove to be the best provider of vitamin C but her repeated tests showed otherwise.

"My dad knew somebody that was almost like a scientist," she said of getting some tips for putting together the project.

Her favorite part of the science experiment, she said, was testing out the various fruits to get her results.

"For each one (fruit) I did it two times," she said of testing and charting her results. "Now instead of eating an orange a day, I'll eat pineapple."

For Madison Kindberg, also a fifth grader at Van Allen, her project focused on crayons and which color would melt the fastest when exposed to heat.

"I thought the purple would melt the fastest," she explained. "The sun is attracted to black."

Given that knowledge, and with purple being the darkest crayon of those she had in her test, Kindberg reasoned that the purple would draw the most heat. Her hypothesis proved correct.

All smiles that she got it 'right,' Kindberg said she enjoyed the project.

"I thought maybe someday I could be a scientist," she said. "One of my big goals is I want to be a vet."

Kindberg's project also earned a first place blue ribbon.

"This was our first year doing it," fourth grade teacher Leslie Latour explained. "They've been working since Thanksgiving and we've been teaching them the scientific process."

Latour and fifth grade teacher Sandy Anderson took the lead in helping students through the projects, with just the fourth and fifth graders tackling the individual experiments.

"It has been a steep learning curve for all of us," Latour said, but added that teachers, parents and friends who turned out for the Thursday evening Science Night at the school were impressed with the work.

Students in lower grades contributed to Science Night as well, from drawing posters to writing paragraphs about science and more, with some demonstrations featured that night as well.

"We had pizza and a packed house," said Latour.

There were seven judges on hand to rate the projects done by the fourth and fifth grade students, including two that came in from the county.

"They were so impressed, they said we could be competing at the county level," Latour said.

Students who earned first and second place ribbons in the school show have the option of moving forward to put their projects in the countywide science fair later this spring.

Fourth grader Drake Arnold was busy demonstrating his first place project for a group of students that were touring the science fair on Friday, explaining about which materials proved to be the strongest barrier against magnets.

"Steel is the most barrier," he said. "Copper is the easiest one to get through."

Other projects included fourth grader Yeng Vang's second place effort in determining what water temperature best gets out ketchup stains.

"I liked squeezing the ketchup," he said of enjoying the testing process.

First place went to fourth grade student Emily Bavaro for measuring the pigment in the various colors of leaves and fifth grader Nicholas Lattig also earned first place for discovering that citrus fruits can power a clock with their acid as opposed to their sugar content. Geovani Garcia, a fifth grader who earned a third place ribbon, discovered none of the garbage bags he tested were strong enough to withstand a load of five bricks.

Latour said officials were thrilled with the success of the overall event and teachers will help the first and second place students get their projects ready for county competition.

"Enthusiasm is high," Latour said, smiling. "We'll be doing it again. We've already ordered the ribbons for next year."