January 23, 2014 | 117 40

Hallett Elementary students bust myths in lab

A Hallett Elementary School student pulls off a tablecloth, resulting in dishes and silverware crashing on the floor. Several feet away, two of his classmates sit at a table, attempting to pull apart two phone books that had their pages interlaced together.

Al Stover
Elementary STEM Coach Marci Dayton prepares to drop a ball of clay onto the floor in front of an audience of students and parent as part of an experiment to see if falling on the ground was dangerous as falling into water.

Both the tearing apart of the phone books and the ripping of the tablecloth were not acts of misbehaving, but rather two science experiments happening during the Mythbusters lab, presented by Medical Lake School District's STEM program, Jan. 18, at Hallett Elementary.

According to Elementary STEM Coach Marci Dayton, who headed the presentation, the lab was to introduce students and their families to science experiments similar to ones performed on the television show "Mythbusters."

Students had to prove whether the objective – or myth – could be completed in each experiment. This included trying to pull a tablecloth off a table without spilling all of the dishes on top and attempting to make rope out of toilet paper.

Dayton gave families notebooks to write down hypothesizes and record observations. Dayton also encouraged students to change some of the variables of each experiment, such as using a different kind of tablecloth.

One of the experiments families did as a group was to determine if hot water or cold water would freeze faster with Dayton monitoring the process of both the hot and cold water.

After 30 minutes, the cold water began to ice over while the hot water, which had cooled at this point, was starting to get some thickness.

Dayton explained that hot water freezes quicker because the molecules are moving at a fast rate, but because of the increased density, the cold water froze faster. She added that depth can affect how fast water freezes

Another experiment the families did together was to see if it was more dangerous to fall into water or onto solid ground. Dayton did four trials with different objects: air-dry clay, tomatoes, eggs and water balloons.

After each drop, objects dropped in water had similar results, but received less damage than objects that hit the floor.

In addition to the experiments, families watched a video interview featuring "Mythbusters" host Adam Savage, who talked about the positive aspects of children learning new things and creating their own science experiments.

At the end of the lab, students and families shared their results of their expirments. One group said they were able to tie nine braids of toilet paper together to make it work as a temporary rope.

Elementary school students Colton Lennen said the phone book experiment was interesting.

Dayton said the lab had a good turnout. She mentioned she normally puts everyone into a group and they perform all of the experiments together.

"This time people put more time in some experiments," Dayton said. "They just went where their interests lie."

The next STEM lab for Hallett Elementary is scheduled for February.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.

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