|CSHS Science Fair 2012. In the foreground, a bunch of students play with some instant-foaming organic insulator they created.|
|The biodegradable fish-based plastic project.|
As it so happens, their speaking test for my English class is a three-minute speech that introduces their R&E projects. Seeing as these tests begin next week, many of them have had a little bit of practice already. It helped that I've been reading first, second, and third drafts of their speeches for the past month, so I could recognize the group that made a biodegradable plastic out of fish scales and bones and the group that used 3D imaging programs to predict which geometric theorems of right triangles could be extended to tetrahedrons.
But the real Big Deal at the science fair was the judging portion. Unsurprisingly, the first-years are not just doing these projects for the educational experience, but it's also a competition. There were judges from the regional Office of Education (I assume) who listened to every group give their poster session spiel. (This is the part that my students have been freaking out about for the past few days.) The best groups will get prizes and also advance to a regional science fair. Then, the best of those will advance to the national fair, for their shot at eternal fame and glory. But the competition is fierce every step of the way. (How do I know this? Oh, right, I've seen it before.)
|The sonoluminescence group captured light emitted from bubbles excited by sound waves. Okay, I don't know how sonolumniscence works. My students are smarter than I am. THEY BUILT THIS.|
|Besides R&E, lots of artistic odds and ends on display.|
(stuff from their other classes, like environmental-sci)
But you know what? Wandering around the gym and marveling at all of these projects, you wouldn't be able to tell that the atmosphere was buzzing because of stress and anxiety. Unless you asked a student who hadn't met the judges yet. Otherwise, there was a buzz of excitement in the air.
Besides the students, teachers, and judges, lots of parents were there to see what their children had produced. This includes my host father, who came to take a look at my host sister's project on the effect of UV radiation on photosynthesis.
And then, when the second-year students -- all of whom had to go through this experience together last year -- descended upon the gym to check out this year's crop, there was this near-carnivalesque atmosphere that... well, that wasn't a carnival, obviously, but do you get what I'm saying? It was just so exciting. The students were naturally curious about their work, probably did a little bit of bonding over their shared experiences. Of course, the second-years also came for the free coffee and snacks, but most of it was gone before they'd arrived. Oh well!
|Host sister and her group, with their irradiated lettuce plants.|
|A student rehearses his presentation while snacking. His project tried to identify the mechanisms in bees and other small insects which allow them to survive being hit by drops of water (when it rains).|