Highlands School was a gathering of scientific-student minds on Thursday for Highlands School’s STEM Night and Science Fair.
STEM Night entailed activity stations throughout the old gym focused on scientific principles used in the book Mouse House Tales, presented by students from Academically or Intellectually Gifted (AIG) classes. Each page of the story was the focus of a scientific activity presented by AIG students with a STEM (scientific, technology, engineering, and mathematics) theme.
Middle School Teacher Stephanie Smathers said the students and STEM Coordinator for Macon County Schools Jennifer Love did a fantastic job.
“I thought the projects were great this year, and Jennifer Love did a great job with STEM, and she was able to incorporate literacy into the subject,” said Smathers. “Science and STEM allow students to get involved in learning with their hands. They learn to problem solve and create solutions with different approaches. It’s combines critical thinking and application.”
Sixth-grader Lucas Deppe said his AIG class used electricity to connect receptors that light up when connected to the corresponding answer to a scientific question. For example, the receptors would light up when connected to the word “leg” and the leg of a spider in a diagram. The receptors were connected with strips of aluminum that transferred the electrical current.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Deppe. “I had never heard of that before or done anything like that.”
Tate Wilson helped operate the hex bug maze station using small robots to navigate mazes. She said nights like Thursday are fun because you get to see what other AIG classes have been working on. Pictured at the top of the article from left are Nicole Taylor and Tate Wilson operating the hex maze station during STEM night.
“I like this because it gives you a chance to show what you’ve learned in AIG,” said Wilson. “Then, when you interact with other students you learn new things because of what they’ve been working on. It’s amazing what scientists are discovering nowadays and what they are doing with that.”
In conjunction with STEM Night was this year’s Science Fair; which included projects, inventions, and experiments presented by students K-8th grade.
Harrison Gates and JD Head tackled the question of which toilet paper was the most effective based on absorption. By submerging multiple brands of toilet paper in a set volume of water, the duo was able to determine the most efficient brand is Charmin.
“Our conclusion pretty much supported our hypothesis, so we were right in our thinking,” said Gates. “It was time consuming though.”
Head said while the experiment was a time commitment, the work wasn’t too “torturous.”
“It wasn’t bad doing it, the hardest part was choosing what to do,” said Head. “Thinking about how hard it would be, how long it would take, and what happens if you mess up in the middle.”
Nicole Taylor studied the growth of mold on organic versus nonorganic foods.
“We didn’t grow up eating organic foods, but now we do so we wanted to know the difference,” said Taylor.
Taylor’s data suggests mold grows faster on organic foods, which Taylor attributes to a lack of preservatives and pesticides.
“Having a STEM Night is awesome,” said Taylor. “A lot of schools don’t participate in things like this, and we dedicate a whole night to it. I wouldn’t have known that about organic food if we didn’t. It’s so fun.”
Margaret Cole partnered with Cayden Pierson on an experiment appropriately titled, “Will it Burn.” Cole said they wanted to focus on a timed experiment when choosing a topic, and given this project’s parameters had to set up in a controlled environment.
“We had to use an old microwave because we didn’t want to stink up the house,” said Cole. “Our possible topics focused on races, and what would happen fastest, that’s how we landed on this. It was really fun because you’re learning new things that you didn’t know before.”