Students from various Shelby County schools put their science skills to the test while participating in a Science Festival held at the University of Montevallo on November 7. The event was sponsored by the University of Montevallo, the Alabama Math, Science Technology Initiative (AMSTI), and the Shelby County School District. It was attended by schools from Shelby County, Chilton County, Bibb County and Hoover City.
This exciting day of science and engineering encouraged and extended students’ understanding of scientific principles and required them to apply their knowledge in various engineering tasks. Approximately 250 fourth and fifth grade students worked in teams of up to five students to explore science concepts and study engineering designs.
Teams were given one month’s advanced notice of their selected and assigned competitions (egg drop, bridge building or catapult launch) and were encouraged to begin their research and exploration immediately. At the Science Festival, teams received materials and utilized their research experience in the engineering design process to construct a structure that met specific criteria for their chosen competition.
For example, in the egg drop competition, students were given materials such as a plastic gift boxes, newspaper, tooth picks, balloons, rubber bands, pipe cleaner sticks, yarn and tape. They had to construct a structure that would protect an egg being dropped from a bucket lift elevated approximately six stories high.
In the bridge building competition, students were required to construct a bridge made with paper and masking tape. The bridge had to span a specific distance between two tables and be able to hold the weight of a five-gallon bucket that was attached and hanging under their bridge structure. If the bridge held the initial weight of the bucket, then sand was slowly added to see how much weight it would support.
In the catapult competition, students were given materials such as popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and plastic spoons. With these materials, students had to build a catapult that would launch a ping-pong ball a specific distance towards a bulls-eye target.
The winning teams in each of those competitions were:
Egg Drop: Oak Mountain Intermediate (Team A12) – first place; Mt Laurel Elementary (Team A1) – second place; and Clanton Elementary (Team A4) – third place.
Bridge Building: Chelsea Park (Team B10) – first place; Oak Mountain Intermediate (Team B13) – second place; and Helena Intermediate (Team B6) – third place.
Catapult: Oak Mountain Intermediate (Team C11) – first place; Mt Laurel Elementary (Team C1) second place; and Vincent Elementary School (Team C7) – third place.
In addition to the various competitions, students also participated in a variety of hands-on science experiences provided by both professional scientists and university students enrolled in science and education related fields. Some of those cooperating organizations included the Alabama Wildlife Federation, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Aldridge Gardens, AMSTI, and the University of Montevallo Regional In-Service Center.