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posted: Wed, Mar 22nd, 2017

Science projects to be displayed at district fair

Ten projects from Mountain View's 17th annual science fair have been chosen to represent the school at the district science fair on April 8. Topics explored in the projects include solar power, earthquake architecture, and bridge strength. 

Mrinalini Kaul and Colin Wronko completed projects that were particularly fresh and interactive. Mrinalini, a third-grader in Mary Fisher's class, researched "How Human Lungs Function" and included in her project a hands-on measurement of lung capacity. Visitors to her display could test their lung capacities with a homemade device made from basic household items such as a measuring cup, a jug of water, a large bottle, and a hose. 

Using information found in books and the American Lung Association website, Mrialini also described on her presentation board the anatomical process of inhaling and exhaling. She listed and defined the most common lung illnesses as well.

"One time I was really sick and needed to use an inhaler," Mrinalini said. "And since then I've been really bugging my parents to learn about the lungs." 

Colin investigated the subject of supertasting. Supertasting is exactly what it sounds like: an enhanced sense of taste that provides an increased sensitivity to certain flavors and also gives flavors a greater intensity than the average person experiences. Colin's display included a simple test that allowed visitors to determine if they were supertasters by counting the papillae on their tongues. He also included a list of flavors that supertasters experience intensely and photos taken by his mother of Colin testing himself.

Colin is in the third grade in Jen Leone's class.

The Mountain View science fair was sponsored by the Flanders PTA. A total of 77 projects were displayed. 

Here's the complete list of students and student teams who have projects moving on to the district science fair: 

Derek Berkowitz, Brayden Caputo, Ryan Dugan, James Giammonco, & Aaron Klein

Madison Clemente & Tyler Clemente

Jordan Gallagher & Suhana Khitolia

Keely Jarvis & Lilah Jarvis

Mrinalini Kaul

Zaeden Moore

Nevin Petzinger

Allison Rambo

Kaitlin Shaw & Rachel Watkins

Colin Wronko

Students create pets in genetics lab

You've never seen animals like these before. That's because they've been created in a genetic pet lab. [Cue spooky ominous music.]

Kelly Wronko and Paige Micchelli's fifth grade class at Mountain View has engineered entire families of animals based on the students' knowledge of genes. The activity is the culmination of a three-week science unit on reproduction that covered plants, cells, and animals. 

The teachers walked the class step-by-step through a process to create the pet families. First, each student flipped a coin to determine the dominant and recessive genes of the father and mother. Spotted skin was a dominant trait, for example, and non-spotted skin was recessive, according to the gene worksheet that the teachers came up with. A curly tail was dominant and a straight tail was recessive.

After the moms and dads were "born," each student created two kids. First, a coin toss determined each baby animal's gender: Heads the father passes on an X chromosome and the couple gets a male, tails and it's a female. Next, the fifth-graders used the traits the parents to figure out what was passed down to the offspring.

Then it was time to get to work. The teachers had cut out from construction paper piles of various types of eyes, noses, teeth, tails, and hair. They also made generic yellow bodies which resembled some hybrid of cat, bear, and dog. Maybe. (If you squint you can see a little owl or a touch of Big Bird.) The students then just followed the traits that they had figured out for the parents and children, and chose the body parts that they needed to assemble their pet families.

"This project really helped students understand the fundamentals of genetics because they were actually using what they had learned," said Mrs. Wronko. "They understand the science of life."

The students named their families and pasted them on construction paper. The easy-to-care-for pets were displayed in the hallway outside the class.

The first page of the worksheet used to determine the genetic traits
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