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Students display projects, inventions at Family Science Night

Streator 7th- and 8th-graders flex STEM skills

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Times invites educators to submit articles highlighting programs and activities happening in schools. For more information, email

Northlawn Junior High School hosted its annual Family Science Night on Feb. 12. Students in seventh and eighth grades showcased their projects for family and friends.

In seventh grade, students researched, hypothesized, planned, experimented, analyzed and concluded in groups of three or four students in each of Kristine Ehrler’s classes. Each of six groups had a different topic to research. Topics included:

u How do different surfaces affect the height of a basketball bounce?

u Of eight different sodas, which is the most acidic?

u Which type of vinegar would cause the biggest reaction when mixed with baking soda?

u Are two magnets twice as strong as one magnet?

u Which brand of potato chip is the greasiest?

u Between water, vinegar, and 7-Up, which will cause an egg’s shell to dissolve and increase the egg’s volume the most?

After doing background research and forming a hypothesis, each group conducted their own investigation, analyzed their data and created a display to show the results. Those were displayed at Family Science Night.

“The students have worked very hard over the past three weeks, researching, writing, investigating and creating their displays, and I am very proud of them,” Ehrler said.

Ehrler noted several students chose to go above and beyond and do an at-home investigation. They did extra research, conducted their investigation at home over winter break and completed a more in-depth written report. These students will have the opportunity to attend the Regional Science Fair at Norther Illinois University in March.

Of the class projects, Ehrler said, “All of the investigations produced interesting results. However, the students and I were especially surprised to find out the pH of various soft drinks. The pH of Jumex, a fruit-flavored drink, had the same amount of acid as Mountain Dew.”

Eighth-graders participated in Family Science Night by creating their own inventions. Students transformed into innovators as they researched and dreamed up inventions. The target was to solve problems they have faced in real life. The idea was modeled from the National Invention Curriculum. Eighth-grade science teacher Melissa Brown implemented this format to integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) into her classroom.

Goals of the program include:

u Engaging students in the scientific/invention process and furthering the goals of STEM by encouraging students to develop an interest in STEM at a young age.

u Investing in problem-solvers, thinkers, inventors and learners who will become future leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

“I was very proud of the hard work that the students put into their inventions,” said teacher Melissa Brown. “You could see their excitement when they were telling people about their inventions at Family Science Night. This was probably the first prototype they developed. Even though many were frustrated, they worked through the design process.”

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