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St. John’s students create their own science experiments

St. John's School Science Fair winners advancing to regional competition include front row, Andraya Thorkildson (blue ribbon), Marty Lau, Billy Wilson, Evan Kaiser, Roman McNamara, Allison Wentzler, Charlie Endres, David Petit, and Elisa Kurzawski. Middle row: Ben Clemens (blue ribbon), Julia Kurzawski, Grace Sieben, Cassie Bauer, Ben Kaiser, Lukas Hanson (blue ribbon), Abby Strommen (blue ribbon), and Shawn Thorkildson; and back row: Isabelle Petit (blue ribbon). (Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn)

Charlie Endres loves his Legos and racing cars. 

He put them together and created a science experiment for the annual St. John the Baptist School (Vermillion) science fair.

The other students in grades 3 to 6 –- and some first- and second-grade students –- also put their creativity to good use and filled the community room at the school on Friday.

A fifth-grader, Charlie decided to determine if the weight of the Lego car had an effect on the distance it would travel.

With the help of his father, he built three Lego cars of varying weights, then used a ramp in his basement to “to send them down.” He did it three times.

“I measured the distance they went each time,” he said. “Did the heaviest one have the most inertia?”

He has participated in two previous science fairs, but said this project was the most fun, again because of the Legos and the racing aspect.

“And I like building things,” Charlie said.

Sixth grader Shawn Thorkilson likes to go camping with his family each year. They always have a fire.

He wondered which wood burned the best.

“At first I thought it would be spruce, he said, holding a piece of the soft wood. But he gathered maple, oak (which the family usually burns), ash, apple, and pine into separate, but equal size piles and conducted a burning experiment on each. Each had its own tin, newspaper and lint (a good starting material).

Shawn and his grandfather had six separate fires. When each fire burned out, Shawn weighed the material.

“Ash was the best one,” he said.

Allison Rose Wentzler wants to be a hair stylist and wanted to learn more about hair, shampoo and conditioner.

Can shampoo make the hair stronger? Through a series of washing draining, drying, Allison learned quite a bit about hair and shampoo.

But she also learned there has to be more research.

“Hair is dead,” she said. “How then can it grow? With shampoo and conditioner, it helps to keep the hair hydrated.

After each washing and rinsing of the hair her mother cut from her head, Allison weighed and measured it.

Other experiments included Barrett Brockman’s “Does a cotton ball float in milk? The answer – of course, for about 30 minutes, until it sinks.

Brecken Siebenaler tested “The Science of Chocolate Chip Cookies.” There ia a definite difference in the taste of the favorite cookies depending on depending on certain key ingredients.

And what about how much sugar is in drinks? Ask Ellie Storkamp, who decided to test about 10 different drinks including juice, soda. She learned there is sugar, more than what people think, in juices.

Using the ingredient label on each beverage container, Ellie put the same amount of sugar in sample plastic bags to make her point.

Her advice: “I think I’m going to drink water and milk.”