Science projects show young scientists' ideas

Laney Gerard, a fourth-grader at Fruitville Elementary, found a solution for her two brothers' fighting.
For her "Emotions" project, Laney Gerard engineered a wheel that matches emotions with solutions. The Fruitville Elementary School fourth-grader thought of the idea as a way to prevent her brothers from fighting.

Arianna Gonzalez, a third-grader from Cranberry Elementary School, attends the Regional Science Fair at Robarts Arena. She was motivated by the oil spill to find her own solution for absorbing oil in her project "Oil vs. Absorbents."

After interviewing them about their feelings, she engineered a device consisting of wheels made out of wood, screws and washers with a base. One of the two wheels color coded emotions such as anger and sadness, and the second wheel offered solutions to deal with each emotion.

"I learned how to help other people solve their emotions in a more productive way," she said.
Laney was one of about 600 Sarasota County elementary school students who competed Monday in the Regional Science Fair at Robarts Arena in Sarasota. "The oil spill isn't going very well," said Arianna Gonzalez of the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico that influenced the topic of her science project. She decided to test which material best absorbed vegetable oil between cotton, shop towels and cut-up straws.

The third-grader from Cranberry Elementary hypothesized that cotton would be the most absorbent, but was surprised by finding that the straws seemed to stick to the oil.

William Jorgensen's goal was to determine which type of campfire design burns the hottest. Using firewood structures of a teepee, lean-to and fire stick design, he measured the temperatures of each. After letting each fire burn for 20 minutes, the fourth-grader at Phillippi Shores used a thermal gun to find the teepee structure produced the most heat. William, who is a Boy Scout, warned that it is important to make sure a fire is hot enough to cook meat or "you wouldn't have a proper meal and you could get sick."

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