Scientists sit in judgement at rural schools science fair

Sacred Heart School was bustling on Thursday afternoon with students presenting their science fair projects.

The science fair consists of Sacred Heart students and those from the rural schools. 

According to Sacred Heart Principal Bart Freese, the science fair has been going on for around 20 years. 

“One of the teachers at Kircher really restarted it. They just needed a central location,” said Freese. “It’s worked out great. It’s so much fun to have the different schools come in.”

Since then the event has been going strong.

According to Freese and Custer County Superintendent Doug Ellingson, having actual scientists be the judges has made all the difference.

“”In the old days we just tried different things for judges. And you would get some good judges and you’d get some judges that weren’t so good. But the biggest problem would be you that one person that thinks every project is wonderful. It’s kind of hard to have a first, second and third with that,” said Freese. “So then a number of years ago they started getting the judges from the different governmental organizations. These guys, most of them essentially are in the science field. Wow, the judging level went up a gazillion percent.”

Some of the organizations that provided judges were the USDA’s Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, the state Natural Resources Department and the federal Bureau of Land Management. 

The gym was packed with tables displaying all types of projects, including testing the crystallization of honey, whether water or sand held heat longer, the classic volcano, how fossilization works and more. 

Maysen Fox, a fifth-grader, did a project on how oceans and rivers heat up like deserts and fields. Fox believed that the water would cool faster than the sand because it keeps the heat inside for a longer amount of time. 

According to Fox, she used water, sand, a thermometer, a ruler, a stop watch and an oven to conduct her study.

The project consisted of filling two containers, one with two inches of water and another with two inches of sand. She then measured each container before putting them in the oven. She continued to measure the containers in intervals. In the end, Fox proved her hypothesis right: the sand held heat longer than the water.

“Probably taking the temperatures,” said Fox, when asked about her favorite part of her project. 

Eighth-grader Karsyn March’s project was determining if honey would crystallize if water was added. 

March believed that the honey with the most water added would crystallize the fastest and have the most crystals. 

he used five small jars with lids, masking tape, popsicle sticks, water, a freezer, a timer and locally produced honey. 

According to March, she took the jars and put one teaspoon of honey in each jar. In the first jar she added one tablespoon of water, jar two received two tablespoons, jar three gpt three tablespoons, jar four had four tablespoons and the fifth jar was all honey. 

All the jars were put in the freezer overnight but nothing happened. She continued to check the jars every four minutes.

“I found that my hypothesis was wrong because the experiment didn’t work,” said March. 

Her favorite part of the experiment was being able to use her grandma’s honey. 

March ended up taking third in the eighth-grade division.

Seventh-grader Joey Finn created an electric train out of coiled copper wire, batteries and magnets.

He began by coiling the copper wire around a broom stick. He then put the magnets on the positive and negative side of a battery. He then put it in the copper wire, gave it a gentle push and it slid right through.

“It piqued my interest,” Finn said about why he chose this project. “Seeing the battery go through was my favorite part.”

Students in grades K-5 attended mini science workshops while the science fair was going on.

The four workshops were provided by Custer County Extension, Ag. in Montana Schools, the Miles City Public Library and oneHealth. 

The winners of the fifth-grade experiment division were Will Leesburg, Gentry Holmen and Ian Zook. The winners of the sixth-grade experiment division were Toby Henning, Shyla Quinlan and Jesiah Richards. The winners of the seventh-grade experiment division were Jayne Henning, Sam Layton and Laney Jones. The winners of the eighth-grade experiment division were Maddie Mansheim, Augusta Rivera and Karsyn March. 

The winners of the fifth- and sixth-grade combined research division were Cadence Shaw, Saige Kelly and Nathan Hooley. The winners of the seventh and eighth grade combined research were Sage Zook, McKinsey Alderman and Minnie Lamb. 

The winners of the fifth-grade demonstration were Jack Layton, McCormick Friend and Heidi Phalen. The winners of the sixth-grade demonstration were Rylee L. Smith, Logan Muggli and Jackson Miller. The winners of the seventh and eighth grade combined demonstration were Roy Murray, Tierney Zachmann and Joey Finn.