Kids test their theories

YOUNG SCIENTISTS: Fraser McDowell, left, Isabel Spring and Claudia Saunders.
YOUNG SCIENTISTS: Fraser McDowell, left, Isabel Spring and Claudia Saunders.

Impressive scientific experiments wowed the judges at Gladstone Primary School's biennial science competition this month.

More than 200 children entered the competition which is now in its fifth year.

Middle school associate principal and scientific curriculum leader Claire Alger says there has been a science focus this term at the school.

"And then the children that want to - we really encourage them to - carry out a [science] investigation at home."

One group of five-year-olds decided to test the melting speed of different icecreams, while another entrant played the music of Queen, Michael Jackson and Mozart to test whether music really does help plants grow.

Another boy investigated different types of swimwear and how they affected his swimming times.

Children were judged by year group and then, to make it fair, in two groups, assisted and non-assisted, depending on whether they had been helped by family.

Student Fraser McDowell won the best experiment in the year 5 assisted category by trying to find out whether the birds in his garden prefer some colours or flavours of bird seed to others.

Although his mum suggested an experiment with birds, he chose the idea himself.

"I didn't really want to do something she had thought of," he says.

After extensive testing and analysis, he found that birds prefer red colouring to others.

"If we want to scare the birds away, we give them blue, yellow and green bird seed with a bit of dripping on it."

Pupils Isabel Spring and Claudia Saunders won the year 6 assisted category.

They tested which paper towel brand was the strongest by wetting each brand and testing its strength with the weight of marbles. The winning paper towel held 126 marbles.

None of the children want to be scientists when they grow up although Claudia isn't quite sure.

"It just depends on what sort of science. Some sciences are really good fun and you can do really cool things," she says.

Professor Peter de Lange helped to judge the event.

He says he was really surprised by the high quality of the experiments.

Auckland City Harbour News