The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 19, 2013

Young scientists display projects at OMOS festival

Kelly Urban
kurban@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Pupils at Our Mother of Sorrows School have been experimenting with science.

The school is holding a festival in which pupils in grades three through eight were asked to create projects as part of the science curriculum.

“We do this every other year and really call them family projects because we want everyone to be involved,” said Mike Harchick, fifth- and sixth-grade science teacher. “The students picked their own topic and can run with it.”

Some of the projects on display include solar energy, harnessing electricity by using potatoes, how gravity works, how eye color is decided, how caffeine drinks increase heart rate, the solar system, the use of magnets and determining if dogs have unique nose prints.

Pupils are graded on the project itself and the written report they give in class.

“This is something outside of the classroom and textbooks, and everyone has put a lot of effort into their projects,” Harchick said.

The 112 projects will be judged by faculty and staff.

First-, second- and third-place ribbons will be awarded.

Sixth-grader Patrick Karcher created a non-heated lava lamp.

“I have a lava lamp at home and thought it would interesting to see how they work,” he said.

His lamp consists of vegetable oil, water, food coloring and a one-liter plastic bottle. To get the bubbles, he dropped in an Alka-Seltzer tablet.

“It’s fun to see the bubbles come up, and I learned that water and oil don’t mix,” Patrick said.

Justin Way took on the task of making a flashlight using household items including a plastic bottle, tape, aluminim foil, a light bulb, a battery and brass fasteners.

“Electricity will not flow if you don’t have a complete circuit,” the sixth-grader said. “It was a neat and fun project, and I like to mess around with wires.”

The projects will be on display from 8 to 9:30 a.m. today in the school’s cafeteria.

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