Science fair winners
K-2 Physical Science
Best in category: Will Leuschen and Jack Elsten, Sunflower.
First place: Andy Bellemere, Raintree Montessori.
Second place: Amitav Bhattachan, Hillcrest; Justin Shoemaker, Georgia Martin and Jonah Pratt, Eudora; Cady Byrd, Lawrence Virtual School.
Third place: Francis Parker, Katherine Price, Tiri Tiri, Isabella Richmond, Kayliegh Miller, Natalie Shepard and Mia Young, Prairie Park; Olivia Diaz Moore, Cordley; Naheen Syeda Jamal, Schwegler; Loren Reiske, St. John; Martin Hill, Hillcrest; Frances Parker, Prairie Park; Channing Saint Onge, Cordley; Nico Bode, Cordley; Simeon Moulton, Maize Virtual Prep; Jesse Gamblin, Langston Hughes; Paxton Harvey, Pinckney; Joe O’Keefe, Cordley.
Grades 3-5 Life Science
Best in category: Zoe Diaz Moore, Cordley.
First place: Hailey Gotto, Mina Dailey and Isabella Crawford-Parker, Pinckney; Lucy Gamblin, Langston Hughes.
Second place: Becca Hawkins, Woodlawn.
Third place: Avalok Bhattachan, Hillcrest.
Grades 3-5, Physical Science
Best in category: Audrey Hoey-Kummerow, Cordley.
First place: Sara Makboul, Deerfield.
Second place: Hailey Coon and Annabelle Moore, Woodlawn; Hunter Tilghman and Connor Harmon, Woodlawn; Jenna Gillespie, Deerfield; Hayden Bush, Prairie Park; Charlie Elsten, Joe Leuschen and Peyton Mallory, Sunflower.
Third place: Raven Oshel and Laney Wallace, Woodlawn.
Grades 6-8 Life Science
Best in Category: Declan Oberzan, Veritas.
First place: Noel White, Veritas; Cale Griffin, Veritas.
Second place: Olivia Collar, Liberty Memorial Central Middle School.
Third place: Jackson Sabol, Bishop Seabury.
Grades 6-8 Physical Science
Best in category: Adelai Spears, Southwest Middle School.
First place: Jackson Rau, Veritas.
Second place: Mariana Gilliland, Veritas; Caleb Sharp, Veritas.
Third place: Joy Bradshaw, Veritas; Trey Huslig, Veritas; Noah Haas, Veritas; Bridget Smith, Bishop Seabury.
Grades 9-12 Life Science
Best in category: Luke Padia, Aubrey Goscha and Macey Sutter, Lawrence High.
First place: Elliott Abromeit, Lawrence High; Nick Steichen, Lawrence High.
Second place: Isabelle Schmidtberger and Emily Alt, Lawrence High; Joshua Bash, Jacob Parnell and Caleb Downs, Lawrence High; Zia Kelly and Audrina Hildalgo, Lawrence High; Caelen Rogers and Kai Blosser, Lawrence High.
Third place: Caroline Baloga and Emma Bentzinger, Lawrence High; Morgan Davidson, Lawrence High; Stefan Petrovic and Chase Odgers, Lawrence High.
Grades 9-12 Physical Science
Best in category and First place: Mia Franklin and Emily Torres, Lawrence High.
Second place: Abby Johnson and Gabby Boor, Lawrence High.
Third place: Dalton Wiggins and Dylan Wiggins, Lawrence High.
Josie Robarge, a fifth-grade student at Woodlawn School, wanted to know what was the fastest way to chill a can of soda.
So she devised an experiment to measure three different methods. She set up three similar picnic coolers and filled one with ice, another with cool water, and the third with a mixture of ice and salt. Then she placed one can of soda in each container, left them there for equal lengths of time and then measured their temperatures at the end.
The results were on display in a neatly drawn bar graph, along with photographs of the experiment taking place and a written report describing the process and her findings.
Her findings: the combination of ice and salt actually cooled the soda slightly faster than ice alone.
"That wasn't what I was expecting," she said. Her hypothesis had been that ice alone would be the fastest.
And while Robarge didn't win one of the top prizes for her entry, she did learn one of the most valuable lessons in science: that things often don't turn out the way you think they will.
"It's about learning that science doesn't always work the way you think it's going to work the first time," said Melisa Ball, a science teacher at Lawrence High School who requires all of her ninth-grade advanced biology students to take part in the science fair. "It's a process of trial and error. I think they all take something away from it."
Josie was among more than 300 students from throughout Douglas County who displayed their science projects Saturday at the Lawrence school district's Science and Engineering Fair.
The fair featured science projects from all grade levels, K-12, and from throughout the county. It included projects in physical science, life science and, for middle and high school students, engineering.
The projects were as varied and diverse as science itself: from one experiment that sought to find out which color of light best promoted plant growth to another that used electrodes to measure the amount of electrolytes in different brands of energy drinks.
Noel White, a sixth-grade student at Veritas Christian School, had a life science project to test the acuity of a mother's sense of smell. She had several mothers try to identify a shirt her child had worn solely by its odor.
"I found out that half of the mothers were able to identify the scent of their child," White said. "I was actually expecting it to be more."
Marci Leuschen, a science teacher at Southwest Middle School, had more than one reason to be excited about this year's fair. Not only were her own students participating, but so was her fourth-grade son, Joe, who was part of a team that designed the experiment about electrolytes in power drinks.
"My students get a ton out of it," Leuschen said. "We do it every year, and just that whole learning process: they pick a topic that interests them and then we try to figure out how to set up the variables. As far as the scientific method goes, it's the best way to experience that."