Albert Einstein: “The important thing is to never stop questioning.”
The Blue Coat Y6 Science Fair 2021 was launched to parents and children, via an electronic presentation, describing our rationale for running the projects and detailing what a ‘good project’ would involve. In some ways, the most challenging part of the entire process for the children is to determine the topic, and specifically, the key scientific question, to be investigated.
This year’s projects addressed a variety of fascinating questions spanning many diverse fields of science:
Which music is best for concentration?
Is 20 seconds the most effective time to wash your hands?
Do masks work?
Does the shape of a sail affect the speed of a boat?
Which method keeps your glasses from steaming up when wearing a mask?
Is gaming bad for you?
Which squishy is the squishiest?
What is the effect of climate change on coral reefs?
How does temperature affect a magnetic field?
Rocket Science: Which vinegar powers the mini rocket the highest?
Which cereal is the crunchiest?
Does colour affect taste?
The children were guided through the stages of the Scientific Method: Question, Research, Hypothesis, Method (including the ‘Fair Test’ principle), Results, Analysis and Conclusion. The final step was to produce the presentation board and then we were ready to hold our Fair!
On Monday and Tuesday of last week, the Sports Hall was transformed to act as the venue. All of our Year 6 children have worked extremely diligently throughout the year and they have produced 82 creative projects. Various Prep classes, including all pupils in Y5, viewed the projects. After all, next year it’s their turn!
On Tuesday, we welcomed our five judges: Miss Fallon – Subject Leader of Biology at King Edward VI Five Ways, Miss Fones – Head of Chemistry at Edgbaston High School, Mr Hopkinson – Outreach (Biology) at King Edward VI High School for Girls, Mrs Matthews – Head of Biology at Edgbaston High School and Dr McGuire – Teacher of Chemistry at Solihull School. Each child talked to a judge for approximately ten minutes about their project. The judges scored the projects according to criteria shared with children and parents at the beginning of the projects covering: Creativity, Scientific Thought, Thoroughness, Skill and Clarity.
The judges conferred after each session and revisited a number of the projects together. At the end of the day, deliberations took place and finally they reached a decision. First, they were overwhelmingly complimentary regarding the high standard of the projects and the effective communication of scientific learning and understanding demonstrated by the children. They initially identified three outstanding projects and then, from the three, gave us our winner – Alexandros Constantinou!
According to the judges, the winner, Alexandros Constantinou, spoke with ‘notable enthusiasm and clarity, demonstrating a complete understanding of all of the scientific principles involved’. His project studied the use of barometers in predicting the weather, and specifically the key question: Can homemade barometers be used to make reliable weather predictions and do commercial barometers used in the home give reliable readings compared to the Met Office weather data?
Alexandros clearly explained what a barometer is, what it measures and how meteorologists employ barometers to predict the weather. He decided to make two types of homemade barometer: an air barometer and a liquid barometer. First, Alexandros explained how each type of barometer works and then he made two of each type, to determine if the type of container made a significant difference to the air barometer and if the volume of water made a difference to the liquid barometer. Alexandros also studied two commercial barometers: aneroid and digital. He identified all variables: controlled, independent and responding, taking particular care to ensure a ‘Fair Test’. He collected a substantial amount of data and produced a series of comparative graphs. The data was thoroughly analysed and then Alexandros drew logical conclusions. Finally, Alexandros summarised and evaluated his investigation.
Our two runners-up were: Anya Stewart and Siyena Begh. Anya investigated: Which type of mask is most effective in preventing spit molecules from being passed from person to person? Siyena chose to investigate an especially apt and timely question: Which method keeps your glasses from steaming up when wearing a mask?
So, whilst we could not enjoy a ‘normal’ Science Fair and welcome parents in to view the projects and talk to the children, we can take our time perusing and celebrating the completed projects. They display all of the elements we were seeking: endeavour, application, creativity, problem solving and scientific thoroughness. The children have demonstrated their Blue Coat Values and cheerfully tried hard. Without doubt they have built upon their understanding of science and the investigative process. They have experienced the scientific method first hand and dealt with any difficulties as they arose. I am incredibly proud of each and every Year 6 child and their commitment to science throughout the year. In my mind, they’re all winners and should be immensely proud of what they have accomplished.
Carl Sagan: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”