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Fairbanks students showcase science know-how

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Posted: Monday, September 26, 2011 10:09 pm | Updated: 1:21 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - It was just a small part of a larger, biannual Alaska Math and Science Conference for educators, but the student showcase at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Great Hall on Sunday showed off some students’ big ideas in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

West Valley High School students manned a table where they demonstrated items they are learning in a forensics class.

Jordi Maisch, 17, and Cale MacDonald, 16, said they really enjoy the class, which teaches different aspects of forensics science. They explained to visitors how scientists can tell differences between tools and weapons from evidence left behind. With three different screwdrivers’ imprints in clay, they told visitors to their table to try to match the screwdrivers up to their marks. Different notches or scratches on similar screwdrivers left behind noticeable evidence that allowed people to tell the difference between the marks.

Elora Carpenter, 17, demonstrated another facet that students learn in the forensics class.

A skull placed in front of her was half covered in clay, mimicking tissue. The clay’s placement helps scientists identify victims when there is no tissue left behind on a skull.

Carpenter said that the project was “really fun and really easy.” She said she likes the art aspect of it, but is more interested in science, so the project is a good fit for her.

As for the class itself, she said she likes solving the mysteries. “It’s like one big puzzle,” she said.

At the showcase, there were rows of display boards from science fair projects that covered topics such as different nail polishes’ longevity and which fruits produce the most energy. One table showed off Extended

Learning Program students’ creations of SeaPerch underwater robots.

A two-year-old project from Barnette Magnet School boasted an innovative school design, which won the School of the Future Design Competition. Students Aedan Fish, 13, and Ben Witmer, 15, explained to visitors how the model they helped create was eco-friendly and functional.

Lathrop High School students demonstrated their prize-winning robot’s abilities to a crowd. The Lathrop students traveled to the 2011 FIRST Robotics Competition in Missouri last spring, and they competed against other robotics teams who design and engineer mobile robots for a skills competition. They hope to do so again this year.

The larger conference was focused on helping educators emphasize science, engineering, technology and math in classrooms. Workshops were held at Fairbanks schools and there were several guest speakers. The goal is to get children prepared for fields where they can use the knowledge they learned from such projects as were displayed at the Great Hall on Sunday.

Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.

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