MERIDEN — For their first ever school science fair, Our Lady of Mount Carmel students are focusing on using technology to augment their projects.
The school, serving 195 students, opened up their inaugural science fair to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders, who have worked on a broad spectrum of projects since the beginning of the month. They’ll present their work, first to a panel of judges, and then to their peers Friday.
The roughly 50 students in Grades Six through Eight also all have access to their own iPads, the result of a renewed focus on technology in the classroom, Principal Norine McDermott said today.
“They’re using them for learning, and using them individually to present their projects,” McDermott said.
One sixth-grader, Isabella Robison, used an application called “Aurasma” that pulls up pre-recorded video when the iPad’s camera is aimed at a specific point on her tri-fold presentation board.
Robison experimented with making homemade geodes for her project, mixing Epsom salt with hot water before letting it set inside eggshells cut in half.
“It was tricky to cut the eggshells, but the geodes started coming out really cool, so it was a fun experiment,” Robison said.
McDermott said the students worked on their projects during science classes at school, something that fostered a collaborative, if competitive environment.
“The students helped each other out — say one who was really artistic helped out his classmates who maybe weren’t so artistically-inclined,” McDermott said, “but it also made them more competitive with each other, pushing each other to make great projects.”
The students will be judged Friday by a four-person panel of judges that includes a member of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel School Board, a former OLMC teacher, a deacon in the parish, and a scientist from Bristol-Meyers Squibb, which is based in Wallingford. McDermott said there was no limit on what the students could research and experiment on, the only requirement was that the projects incorporated use of the iPad technology.
Gabriela Luca, a sixth-grader, said today that she was both nervous and excited to present her project about tornadoes Friday, also her 12th birthday.
“I just have to remember to take a deep breath,” she said.
One issue sixth-grade teacher Carolyn Daniels grappled with today was getting enough wifi access to the church basement to support so many iPads being used.
McDermott said, “As we go along this year, we’ll figure things out for next year. It’s a learning process for everyone.”
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