HAMPSTEAD – The Greatest Show on Earth has taken the place of the Invention Convention at Hampstead Central School. Over the years, enthusiasm for participating in the Invention Convention waned, and teachers Kate Jenkins and Pat Huntington this year decided to make a change; the Greatest Show on Earth was born.
As with the Invention Convention, funding was provided by the Hampstead Education Foundation. A grant was provided and all the participants will receive recognition for their scientific endeavors. Huntington and Jenkins said they were grateful to the Foundation for helping to promote critical and creative thinking in the school’s young students. Principal Dillard Collins supplied all the entrants with Husky shirts.
Jenkins and Huntington said the event is intended to encourage students to do independent, creative, and critical thinking and research on a project relating to science and particularly to the earth. They could pick a topic such as weather, do a project such as building a volcano simulator, or research and present a collection or something demonstrating recyclable art.
“We encouraged them to pick something that they wanted to teach others about,” Huntington said.
This first year, 16 students entered the event. Hannah Bernard, 6, a student in Cathy Wisecarver’s first grade class did a project about making ice cream. She offered several different methods. “We are adding salt to the ice to make this colder quicker,” Hannah said. “I have an ice cream ball and an ice cream machine but I like the one I am doing here that makes ice cream from scratch the best.”
Hannah’s parents helped out as needed, fetching ice or more ingredients, but Hannah was busy stirring and making her ice cream herself and thoroughly enjoying it. Across the room Ethan Flaherty, 7, a second grader in Cara Gordon’s classroom, had a huge collection of rocks, minerals and petrified objects.
“My grandmother gave me her collection,” he said. “This is only a little of it. I researched and learned about these.” Ethan’s mother, Tracey Flaherty, said she had helped with organizing the research and getting the information printed on cards, but it was Ethan’s passion for the collection that motivated both of them.
“Ethan and I both learned so much doing this,” she said.
“I have rocks, minerals, diamonds, dinosaur teeth, barracuda and shark teeth, ash from Mount St. Helens, petrified wood, fool’s gold, a fossilized leaf and an arrowhead and lots of other things,” Ethan said. “Some of these things came from Brazil, some from Mexico, some from Africa. My favorite is the Herkimer diamonds, but the fossilized dinosaur poop is interesting. It was turned into explosives in World War I.”
Fourth grade student Vera Backman did a science experiment to see which of several types of bread got moldy first. She started it a little less than a month ago and the results were plainly evident. “I used white and whole wheat bread from the store, white and whole wheat homemade bread, and the homemade white bread got moldy first,” she said. “The store bought white bread hasn’t gotten moldy yet. I think that is because the store-bought white bread has preservatives in it and the homemade white used bleached flour.”
She was animated as she showed off her bread specimens and said she had enjoyed doing the experiment.
Many of the school staff supported the event by staying on long after the close of school to help set up the exhibits and then to act as judges.
The other students with exhibits and presentations include: Ryan Lucca, grade 1, Planets; Cameron Wintle Newell, grade 2, Weather; Emma Gordon, grade 2, Crystals; Evelyn Morin, grade 2, Volcano Simulator; Sophia Phaneuf, grade 2, Volcano Simulator; Jackson Collins, grade 2, Bearded Dragon; Hannah Squires, grade 2, Recyclable Art; Evan Kuhl, grade 3 and Eric Kuhl, grade 4, The Effect of Salt on the Boiling Temperature of Water; Ben Perry, grade 3, Recycled Toy Boat; Mark Lucca grade 3, Lightning; Matty Lazzaro, grade 3, Science Experiments; and, Daniel Power, grade 4, A Collection.