Magnetic theme draws students to science fair
Student exhibits filled the Willard Elementary School gym at the River Forest school's annual science fair on Friday. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:39AM
RIVER FOREST — Hearing a student say “Whoa!” after seeing how his experiment worked during the Willard Elementary School science festival, Dr. Timothy Ozga grinned and said he gets that a lot.
The radiologist with Loyola Medicine was one of several volunteers to conduct educational experiments March 1 at the school. The science festival combined student experiments with professional demonstrations on concepts like earthquakes and wavelength and frequency.
At Ozga’s station, students rubbed PVC piping against their hair to produce static electricity, then held the pipes next to a stream of water and watched the water bend toward the pipe.
Ozga said it’s the perfect experiment to demonstrate different parts of radiology and is “kind of a starter course in MRI imaging.”
“It’s one thing to just tell people, this is radiology. But it’s a lot more fun for kids to get hands-on,” he said.
More than 90 student projects were submitted for the fair; this year’s theme was the electromagnetic spectrum.
“It’s just amazing how many children decide to participate in the fair,” said Sara Ward, who, along with Cathie Overmyer, organized the festival. “It’s fun to see the kids get really pumped up by science. The school feels like a science museum.”
Wearing white lab coats, parents Sonia and Colby Green — who have three children at Willard — helped students learn about the light spectrum.
“Neither my husband or I are science people, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to learn,” said Sonia Green.
At her station, children shone flashlights on prisms which created colors on the visible spectrum. Colby Green helped students construct a color wheel.
“I hope they get a passion for science, and just a curiosity,” Sonia Green said.
Families browsed the array of student experiments and demonstrations in the school’s gym. Fourth grader Langford Green’s posterboard explained his scientific process: measuring the growth of Braindrops — marble-like balls that grow in liquid — in water versus cola.
“A lot of experiments are fun, doing them and watching them,” he said.
Fourth grader Hannah Klein’s experiment involved exploding liquids. She added baking soda and vinegar to three different liquids: SoBe Lifewater, coffee and Dr Pepper. The biggest explosion came from adding baking soda and vinegar to the SoBe Lifewater, which she believed occurred due to its wide range of pH values.
Klein, who has participated in the science festival each year she’s attended Willard, said her favorite part about this year’s fest was the hovercraft.
“I learn something new every time,” she said. Her dad, Burt Klein, likes that the children are able to get their hands dirty, so to speak.
“It’s discovery for the kids,” he said.
Ward hopes the festival opens students up to the wonders of science.
“I want them to have a positive feel for science,” she said. “In everything we do, science is behind it.”