Kutztown Middle Schoolers test their hypotheses, make conclusions

Patriot photo by Roxanne Richardson Kutztown Middle School hosts its annual Science and Technology Fair on Feb. 15. Kian Kanaskie, Isabella Pizzelanti, and Morgan Claypoole tested how temperatures affected popcorn's ability to pop.

Kutztown Middle School students tested their own hypotheses and discovered their own scientific conclusions during the recent Science and Technology Fair.

Kaylen Leiby, 10, Molly Brown, 11, and Owen Stemko, 10, wanted to know if dogs could smell some bones better than others and set up a test of various commercial bones using their family pooches’ noses.

“They can smell the peanut butter Dentastix a lot better than the others which were Rawhide Chews, Beefeater Peanut Butter and Milk Bones,” said Brown.

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Even though it was difficult finding the time to get together because of other activities, the three friends shared a love for dogs which made the project a fun event.

Emma Ketterer, 11, and Taryn Stauffer, 10, had two different hypotheses as to why people picked up coins; Ketterer believed people picked up pennies for good luck and Stauffer believed people picked up coins because of size.

“They didn’t actually pick up pennies in this experiment. They picked up three nickels out of 90 nickels and no coins for the rest,” said Ketterer.

Stauffer added, “There were pennies, nickels, and dimes.”

Stauffer’s hypothesis that people picked up nickels was because of size was correct. They also concluded that being brighter in color make it easier to spot on a sidewalk. They made their observations at Weiss, CVS, and the Dollar Tree. The biggest challenge was standing out in the cold for long periods of time. Stauffer and Ketterer took second place in the group category.

There was a Spirit of Science Award given to a group of students with special needs for their experiment of testing whether plants would grow in trash. Evan Devall, Grace McKenna, Anthony Misko, and Andres Baptist were mentored by Beth Hartz and Megan Waidelich.

“They wanted to know if plants would continue to grow in trash so we took things around our community,” said Hartz.

Accrding to Hartz, the students went to the elementary school garden and used some of the outside trash. They also got cans from the recycling bin, shredded paper, and leftover lunch and did different experiments where they stuck plants in and watched them for about two weeks to see if they would continue to grow.

“They are so proud and the video they’ll show just shows their face and how well they just loved it. Every day their like, ‘is it time, is it time?’, and even some of our non-verbal students were ready to go every time we sat down and it was just heart-warming to see,” said Hartz.

The 2013 Science and Technology Fair also featured music by the Kutztown Middle School Jazz Band. The Kutztown Area Schools Music Association provided the evening’s food and beverage. The program is supported by the Kutztown Education Foundation.

Support came in different ways including from the Kutztown Chapter of the National Future Farmers of America. These students wanted to show that there is more to being an FFA member involved with farm animals; they brought a rescued greyhound.

“It’s good to support your shelters and rescues too. With Charlotte, she would have been put down if she hadn’t been rescued,” said Kristy Heffner, chapter reporter.

Heffner said they are planning on doing a food raising event for local shelter. Other plans for the group include raising pigs as a fund raiser.

“We’re going to butcher them at the end of the year to raise money for the FFA. We’re going to have a pig roast at the end of the year,” said Matt Graeff.

There were also tables with hands-on activities for kids of all ages to test problem-solving abilities such as Odyssey of the Mind.

“The kids are given a long-term problem, kind of broadly defined, and then they have to come up with a solution to that problem and then they take their solution to competition,” said Karise Mace, one of the attending parents.

This year, one of the problems was that the team had to build a structure out of balsa wood and glue that would support weight and they do a little skit while putting weights on the structure. The one to support the most weight gets the most points and then they are scored for their creativity. The team of five to seven members is also given another challenge called Spontaneous. They are given a problem they had never seen before and must solve right on the spot.

The science fair allows students to demonstrate different abilities in different ways. Kurt Kanaskie said it’s awesome because his son, Kian, gets to interact with other kids and work as a team to build something and contribute. The team gets to present and then be up there on the stage for the awards presentation. His son, Kian, 11, was part of a team that tested popcorn.

“Popcorn stored at room temperature would pop the best,” said Isabella Pizzelanti.

Kian Kanaskie said popcorn kept in the freezer popped the least amount. According the Morgan Claypoole, also on the team, the hardest part of the project was keeping count of the kernels.

“We counted 517 for each bag and we had 12 bags and then after we popped them, we counted the kernels and there were a lot of kernels left,” said Claypoole.

Not all projects were done as groups. Samantha Ide had the challenge of completing her project by herself. Ide tested cleaning products on carpet.

“My hypothesis was I think the Resolve will get the cranberry stain out; it turns out, it did,” said Ide. “The hardest thing was actually getting the cranberry juice to sink into the carpet because it already had stain remover liquid on top of it to prevent the stain from sinking in to the carpet.”

The fair was a celebration of young scientists with a total of 18 projects submitted for competition. Linda Schroeder, event organizer, wanted to make sure these gritty students who were tough enough to take a true scientific experiment to completion received public recognition for their achievements.

All scientists earned a participation medal. Here are the special awards:

Spirit of Science Award – Evan Devall, Grace McKenna, Anthony Misko, Andrew Baptist

Spirit of Science Mentors – Beth Hartz Megan Waidelich

Group Category: 3rd place – The Rainbow of Skittles: Sydney Sheetz, Madison Held

2nd place – Collecting Coins: Emma Ketterer, Taryn Stauffer

1st place – Starchy Potato: Devan Hanna, Derek Hanna

Individual Category: 3rd place – What’s in our Water?: Justin Moyer

2nd place – Transparency, Translucency, Opacity: Derek Shean

1st place - Finger Print Patterns – It’s All Relative: Owen Kulp