“Could I eat off a toilet seat?” was one of the burning questions explored by elementary school students as first grader Harry Rows presented his science project at the Clarke County School District Young Scientist Fair on March 2.

Rows’ science fair project solicited many second takes as he presented his experiments in tesing bacteria from a school toilet seat to determine that it was indeed the cleanest surface to eat from compared to desks and cafeteria tables. He gave two reasons to explain these results: a person’s behind is the least exposed part of the body and toilets are cleaned every day.

Elementary school students grades K-5 from 14 CCSD schools gathered at Alps Elementary on Saturday afternoon to showcase their STEM-focused projects, make their own slime, pet turtles and lizards and more.

Students shared their research in classic science fair tradition with a trifold board documenting their individual projects’ scientific process. Projects explored concepts such as physics, biology and chemistry. Research topics included making a bath bomb, discussing the best type of dirt for plants and testing the buoyancy of candy bars.

Some students also displayed their own inventions and science-focused art pieces. These categories included projects such as a new candy bar and an a 3-D representation of the solar system.

Friendly competition

Students competed in seven different science-related competitions. Kiersten Scott, a third grader from Winterville Elementary School, competed in the “No bones about it” competition where students worked in teams to identify different types of animal and human bones and answer questions about their physiology. Kiersten said she competed in this category because she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

Other competitions included identifying types of rocks or building the tallest freestanding tower that could support a tennis ball.

“The kids find that they love this,” Emily Dail,J.J. Harris Elementary teacher, said. “It opens up a whole new avenue of areas for them to learn in the future and to maybe have a job with one day.”

The fair began with activities for kids from organizations around Athens and UGA. Engineering students from the University of Georgia American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers club taught students about the importance of energy conservation. Master Gardeners from UGA extension taught kids about gardening and helped them make newspaper pots for plants.

Not only did the fair showcase students’ STEM skills, but it also served as a learning experience for different aspects of environmental awareness such as clean water and recycling. Environmental organizations such as the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office, ACC Recycling Division and Keep ACC Beautiful attended the fair to facilitate hands-on activities meant to teach students about the importance of conservation.

At the recycling divisions’ table, students had the opportunity to put on a hard hat and sort waste into compost, recycling or trash.

“It’s important for the kids to learn about it because they’ll go home and tell their parents about it,” Lauren Towe, ACC Recycling Volunteer, said.

The Young Scientist Fair has been held at Alps Elementary School for the last 10 years. This year around 200 students registered to compete and showcase their projects. Awards were given out for first through third place in all categories.

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