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Firwood excites students, community about science

Elementary school to hold science fair March 20


Parents, students and community members will crowd into Firwood Elementary School, 42900 S.E. Trubel Road, on Thursday, March 20, to congratulate students on their work and get them excited about science.

Firwood’s Science Fair will be open to parents and community members from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Teachers and administrators at Firwood said the science fair itself is something of an experiment because the school is trying something new.

For the first time, fifth-grade students at Firwood are required to submit a science project this year, while participation is optional for the rest of the school, kindergarten through fourth. But Principal Tara Black said many of the younger kids are excited, and if they do come up with science projects, they will be able to present as well. “It’s going to be a really fun event,” she said.

Teachers also have decided to get as many community members involved as possible, hoping to show students how science can fit into their adult lives.

“We’re trying to get students excited about science,” said fifth-grade teacher Kaari Lorentson, who has been in charge of putting together plans for the science fair. She said it has been time consuming but worth it. This is her first year organizing the event.

Community members who are attending to judge student projects include Mayor Bill King, Sandy Library Director Beth Scarth, and a sixth-grade science teacher from Cedar Ridge Middle School.

Some community members also will make presentations of their own as part of Lorentson’s vision to have students see how people use science every day in the real world. Groups and businesses such as Mt. Hood Fisheries, Bill’s Automotive Repair, Project Lead the Way, an engineering program at the middle school, and Sandy High School’s manufacturing students will make presentations.

As Lorentson has been attracting members of the community to the event, students have been working hard on their science projects.

As part of the requirements for their science projects, fifth-graders have been working since the beginning of February to come up with a research question, which Lorentson said can be difficult for young kids; form a hypothesis; gather data; and finish with a conclusion based on their experiments.

The night of the event, visitors and judges will be able to wander around, looking at the projects and speaking with the elementary scientists.

Coinciding with the event is Firwood’s annual Scholastic Book Fair. The book fair starts Friday, March 14, and will run through Thursday, March 20. Black said the book fair will remain open during the science fair so parents can purchase books for their children. All of the money raised through the book fair goes toward enrichment programs at Firwood, she said.

Despite the science fair planning successes so far, Lorentson is already thinking of ways the event can be better next year. Because Firwood has had so much feedback and involvement from community members, Lorentson is worried they are taking away time that those same community members might spend at other elementary school science fairs.

She hopes to work toward a districtwide science fair so all the schools can share in the community’s support.