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Students set to show at Waterloo-Wellington science fair

A popular televised scientist once told kids: “science rules!” Soon five St. Jacobs PS students will be showing how they live the Bill Nye the Science Guy’s credo by participating in the Waterloo-Wellington Science and Engineering Fair (WWSEF), set to take place at Bingemans in Kitchener on April 9.

Zak Lienhart, Maddie MacLean, Miranda Elliott, Garrett Reitzel and Johnny DeGanis will be presenting the findings from their respective projects at the fair.

“Our project is about craters and how the object drop affects the diameter size,” said Miranda Elliott of her project with fellow science enthusiast Maddie MacLean.

The girls used Christmas ornaments weighted with lead balls for the experiment, dropping them at various heights into a sandbox.

Zak Lienhart’s project hits close to home, as the eighth-grader experimented with extracting iron from water using a special kit.

“My dad has a problem with iron so I wanted to find out which was the best water for him to drink,” he said.

Garrett Reitzel and Johnny DeGanis took a musical approach to science in their project on how music affects the heart rate. Using eight family members and friends as willing guinea pigs, they tested their heart rates with a heart rate monitor.

“We did four different songs and we tested which would make your heart rate the highest and the lowest,” DeGanis said.

This is the 40th annual regional science fair, with about 220 projects by 300 students represented this year from Grades 7 through 12 in Waterloo Region and Wellington County. They will be competing for awards as well as the chance to get noticed by universities.

“[The science fair] provides them with opportunities to win scholarships to a number of universities and colleges including our local ones. We also have cash and other types of prizes,” said WWSEF representative Sheila MacLeod.

WWSEF is a registered non-profit and uses about 100 judges each year – usually university professors and professionals from local institutions – to evaluate students’ work.

Projects are divided up into categories – biotechnology, earth science, engineering science, life science, or physical science – and are judged according to a national standard which takes into account scientific method, creativity, organization, research, background knowledge, visual impact and a written summary of the project.

Winners of the regional competition will then travel to the Canada-wide science fair in Lethbridge, Alberta in May. On the day of the fair, students will also get a chance to participate in a number of field trips.

All five students participated in the event last year, with positive experiences. A couple of them are even hoping to outdo themselves with this year’s projects.

“I went last year and it was lots of fun and I just wanted to beat last year’s project,” Lienhart said.

But is the genius and hard work all done for the love of science?

“I wanted to beat my brother – he got a gold medal last year,” DeGanis joked.


cover photo: Five St. Jacobs PS students will be returning to the regional fair this year: Maddie MacLean, Miranda Elliott, Zak Lienhart, Johnny DeGanis and Garrett Reitzel.     [elena maystruk / the observer]

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