Roosevelt Elementary holds its first science fair

WILLMAR -- Heat up a rock, pour vinegar on it, and it will crack apart. It looks like magic, but it's not. It's science. Isaac Bendickson's experiment for the first-ever Roosevelt Elementary Science Fair showed that hot rocks will break when wate...

Carter Bastin
Carter Bastin tells Judge Kris Janssen, right, about his box tornado Tuesday. His was one of 17 entries in the first-ever fifth-grade science fair at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar. (TRIBUNE/Gary Miller)

WILLMAR - Heat up a rock, pour vinegar on it, and it will crack apart. It looks like magic, but it’s not. It’s science.
Isaac Bendickson’s experiment for the first-ever Roosevelt Elementary Science Fair showed that hot rocks will break when water or milk are poured on them, too, but vinegar works best.
Isaac was among 17 adventurous young people who responded when science teacher Heidi van der Hagen offered students the opportunity. The group included 16 fifth-graders and one fourth-grader. Their results were displayed on tables in the Roosevelt cafeteria Tuesday afternoon.
“These are kids who just enjoy science,” van der Hagen said. All of the students chose the experiments they wanted to conduct, she said. They tested a hypothesis and reported their data and conclusions in the displays.
Volunteers judged the students’ exhibits and presentations, reviewing the display and asking questions about the experiments. The judges used the same criteria that will be used in the regional competition.
Five students will be chosen to go on to the regional competition this spring.
“It’s fun to see them in a different element,” van der Hagen said as she looked at students speaking seriously with judges.
Caroline Becker tested music’s effect on a person’s heartbeat. “I’ve always wondered, when you listen to classical music, you just want to relax,” she said. “Rock makes you want to get up and move.”
To test her hypothesis that music affects heart rate, Caroline played classical, rap and rock music for five volunteers. She found that heart rates did increase when listening to rock music and decreased when listening to classical music. The surprise to her, she said, was that heart rates were also low when the volunteers listened to rap.
“I’m not really in it to win,” she added. “It’s just science; I enjoy doing it.”
Carter Bastin built a tornado box, which used smoke and a small fan to create a small tornado inside a box painted black. He had videos to show how the box worked and to show that the number of holes in the box had an effect on the strength of the tornado, and an interruption in air flow altered the tornado.
Carter said he built the box himself, but he had some help from his dad on some of the construction.
Likewise, Isaac needed some adult supervision when heating rocks in a fire pit for an hour.
But if they didn’t need it, the students seemed to prefer going without parental assistance.
Geovanny and Maira Santos said their daughter Jary did not want their help when she worked on her successful egg parachute.
“Trust me, Mom, I can do this,” is what she said.
Jary’s dad said they were happy and proud when she decided to sign up for the science fair. They moved here from Georgia, he said, and have been pleased with the opportunities available in the schools.
Maira Santos said she was pleased to see her take on the responsibility and understand what she needed to do. “We saw her really confident,” she said.

Isaac Bendickson
Fifth-grader Isaac Bendickson plays a video on an iPad at the science fair to show how well different liquids works as a means of breaking heated rocks. (TRIBUNE/Gary Miller)

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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