A typical room full of sixth graders is an epicenter of energy, but when you walk in to a room full of sixth graders proudly presenting their recently completed science projects to their teachers and peers, well, it’s even more of a circus.
The upper school DIS science fair began on Tuesday in this frenetic fashion, with a large cluster of 11-and 12-year-olds stuffed into the third floor biology lab, assembling and presenting their own scientific experiments while gabbing excitedly with classmates about theirs.
“The sixth graders came up with extremely original ideas,” said Hennah Abubaker, a science teacher (and science fair judge) at the school. “They used what we had learned in class within their projects.”
Indeed, a visitor need look no further than the neat setup of Bryce Chun, Nathan Briard and Julien Sakouhi, who heavily researched Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion and built an aeolipile, or a “simple bladeless radial steam turbine which spins when the central water container is heated,” though this one was ingeniously constructed with a plastic cup, straws and string in lieu of fire. The aeolipile helps illustrate Newton’s third law of motion, which states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
“I knew about the laws of motion but I couldn’t find a good example of them, so it was really interesting to build this,” Bryce said.
“For me, it was Sir Isaac Newton,” said Julien. “I really liked learning about him and I liked learning about his laws.”
Abubaker said there are lots of lessons to be learned from working as a team to come up with an original experiment.
“I wanted the students to learn time management and organizational skills,” she said. “I hope they were able to experience how scientists come up with questions and conduct experiments to prove or disprove their theories. I also hope they had opportunities to make mistakes without being discouraged.”
Bryce, Nathan and Julien certainly weren’t. Ask any of them about science and their faces light up.
“Science is one of the most interesting classes,” Nathan said. “It shows what our life is focused around. Plus science can help people. Using your imagination can help you and others.”
“I love science because it’s included in everything we do,” Julien agreed. “It’s very fun and it can revolutionize the world one day.”
Parents also had the opportunity to view their students’ projects and listen to their presentations.
“I hope the parents were able to appreciate not just the hard work but the students’ passion for science, which is something I’ve been blown away by,” Abubaker said. “They have really shown a high level of investigative skills and I’ve been super impressed.”
So was this writer. Just listen to Bryce, Nathan, Julien or any other DIS student talk about science and discovery, and you’ll rest assured the future is in good hands.
“Science is traveling into the unknown while still explaining your everyday life,” Bryce said.
Then he filled the aeolipile with water one more time and watched it spin around, delighted.