A Night of Experimentation

At the Rachel Carson Elementary School Science and Invention Night on Jan. 9, first-grader Samantha Kotok shows off the final product of her project in which she determined the best ingredients for making chocolate chip cookies.

From volcanoes to vortex displays, almost 200 students, parents and faculty members attended the Rachel Carson Elementary School (RCES) annual Science and Invention Night on Jan. 9.

The Science and Invention Night, intended to further students’ interest in science and experimentation, has taken place at RCES for the past four years, since 2009.

“The purpose of Science and Invention Night is to enhance the RCES science curriculum by providing the students with the opportunity to further explore science and invention on their own,” said Meredith Fogle, who chaired the event. “Students conduct experiments to further their understanding of the scientific method.”

This year, Science and Invention Night featured close to 150 total students who displayed 100 experiments and 14 inventions.

Participating students wore name tags labeled either “inventor” or scientist” and stood by their projects during the evening to explain and demonstrate them to the crowd.

Fifth-grader Sophie Durmowicz was proud to participate in her final Science and Invention Night with a project she created with her two friends to test the reaction different materials had on Coca-Cola.

“I usually do [Science and Invention Night] every year. The first year I did it, I was a little nervous, but after, I really liked doing projects with my friends,” Durmowicz said.

Other students were excited about participating in the event for the first time.

Fourth graders Megan Cressley and Hensley Smith tested whether Smith’s dog, Pippa, was right- or left-pawed. The two friends explained that after their experiment, they realized Pippa was left-pawed.

“Science [and Invention] Night is really fun! This is my first year doing it, but it was fun to do such a cool experiment,” Cressley said.

Several students brought living organisms, such as plants or pets, to the event in order to enhance their displays.

Second grader Brandon Whitten presented his project on the “Light Impact of Plant Growth” and explained that his favorite part of the project was “picking out the plants because I got to choose the plants myself.”

Ella Burkan, a first grader, brought her pet, Hermy, a hermit crab, to the event to explain the effects of molting. She and her parents thought of the idea when they came home after vacation and thought their pet was missing.

“I liked bringing my project to school and learning more about [my pet],” Burkan said.

The students who participated ranged from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Students seem to have a sense of real accomplishment after the event,” said Fogle. “Parents sense this is an enriching event for their children and are happy to support [it] either through volunteering or working with their children on their projects.”

The event also featured several displays set up by adult volunteers, such as an interactive hand-washing display that Bio-Reliance by SAFC organized to explain the importance of clean hands and germs during the flu season.

“The event has grown every year. We started with about 60 participants and now are at almost 150. This has become one of RCES’ most popular PTA events and is supported by the faculty, staff and our excellent event committee, many of whom volunteer to work on this event year after year,” Fogle said.

Many students planned to discuss their projects in class later in the week.

Third grader Charlie Helfert set up a vortex display to test to hypothesis of whether “the Big Bad Wolf could really blow the Three Little Pigs houses down.” Helfert said he would participate in Science and Invention night again.

“I had fun and learned a lot,” said Helfert.