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Hypothesis: Science is Fun. Conclusion: This Event Proves it.

Hypothesis: Science is Fun. Conclusion: This Event Proves it.

We have STEM programming to thank for reawakening kids to the value and excitement of science. It’s not just for brain surgeons and rocket scientists – everyone can conjure up an idea they’d like to investigate and put to the test.

At this year’s New Haven Science Fair, funded in part by Liberty Bank Foundation, here are a couple of the burning questions on kids’ minds:

  • Does the sea level rise when ice melts? (You’ll be more interested with each passing year.)
  • Where are the most germs? (You’d be surprised.)
  • Why do people stress eat? (Could there possibly be an upside?)
  • What is the best recipe for slime? (C’mon, everyone needs to know this.)

Kids pre-K through grade 12 competed (either individually or in teams) to test a hypothesis, report conclusions, and win an award at New Haven Public Schools’ 25th annual Science Fair. Their work was presented in 212 displays filling a gymnasium and featuring graphs, pictures, lab notebooks and research papers.

Thirty percent of the points students earned towards an award were for how well they explained their science project to judges. And from the tiniest entrants right up through high-school age, kids confidently talked their way through research, testing and results.

A team of four chirpy kindergartners was brimming with answers about the best way to clean a penny. They tried lemon juice, orange juice, water and vinegar and discovered definitively that lemon juice is the runaway winner.

Older grade-schoolers determined that melting ice caps will affect sea level, and expressed great concern about the safety of polar bears and penguins. (No word on humans, but maybe they’re inventing aquatic gear for us right now.) They’ll have a bright future in swaying public opinion on the consequences of global warming.

One of the event’s organizers says that the science fair was originally launched to inspire kids to stay in school. But now it has a broader purpose – teaching kids how to solve problems. This skill transcends age and subject matter and can prove useful over a lifetime.

He also talked about finding the topic that intrigues kids enough to make them want to find the answer. Case in point: All of us rely on electronics to get through the day, but how many of us understand how they work?

Now, for the germ test results (the answer you’ve all been waiting for). Kids tested various things in their school like floors, door knobs, toilet seats, and pencils. And … the germiest is the least suspected. Pencils are filthy. (So stick to your computer keyboard. That’s gotta be way cleaner. Right?)