Talent, ingenuity and fun were all on display at the St. Patrick School Science Fair Thursday in Mauston.
Students in grades K-8 participated — creating experiments and exhibits that filled the gym floor at the school. The science fair is held every other year, alternating with an art fair.
The fair allowed students to use their critical thinking and problem solving skills to design complex experiments. St. Pat’s teacher Mary Beth Crowley, who organized the event with fellow school staff members Mary Finger and Jamie Rezin, said parents and kids were lined up outside St. Pat’s doors waiting to get in when the fair started at 4:30 p.m. Crowley estimates about 400 attended the fair on Thursday.
Crowley isn’t sure how many years the school has put on the art and science fairs, but it’s been an annual event for decades. In fact, St. Pat’s Principal Tiffany Kolb participated in the fairs when she was a young student at the school.
“It’s a pretty big annual event for us,” Crowley said. “There was something going on all the time, today.”
The fair also allowed students to flex their creative muscles. Top awards went to eighth-grader Anna McClintock’s “If You’re Clever Use a Lever” experiment and fellow eighth-grader Bridget Gunther’s plate and utensil exhibit. Kendall Laridaen’s “Sublime Sublimation” was also awarded, along with Sadie Eckerman’s “Musical Memory” experiment. Prizes were given for first, second and third place.
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Students worked on their projects for months, conducting research, interviewing subjects and charting data. They also had to build an attractive display to impress the fair’s judges.
Eckerman said her “Musical Memory” project idea came from her passion for music. Her theory tried to determine if listening to music improved one’s short-term memory. Her experiment was an intriguing look at how the emerging “App Generation” is constantly consumed with accessible technology, using smartphones to listen to music in seconds.
“One of the things I found was adults did better on the test without music and the kids did better with music,” Eckerman said. “I think, because we’re growing up in a generation with more music, that we did better than adults that grew up in a different generation.”
Eckerman received a third place ribbon for her work. In the younger grades, fifth-grader Andrew Trute received top honor for his “Growin’ Gummy Bears” project.
While the students were excited to show off their work to friends, family and their teachers, the process also presented a learning experience for kids at St. Pat’s. Each class conducted a group project so all students could participate.
“It was a lot of fun for the kids because they could do experiments on subjects that they were really interested in, like Sadie, who’s really into music,” Rezin said. “I think it made the projects a lot more fun and interesting for the kids.”
“One of the Mauston High School science teachers stopped by (Wednesday night) and said, ‘This is so nice that in today’s world when everything is so busy and fast, it’s just nice to see them slow down and have to do something step-by-step,’ which our world doesn’t do anymore. I thought that was kind of thought provoking,” Crowley said.