e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Syracuse City Schools Take ESF's Environmental Challenge

Science fair draws students from 11 city schools

When the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) held its first Environmental Challenge science fair in 2001 there were 35 participants. Ten years later, the event brought together more than 600 students presenting 300-plus science projects.

The students, from 11 schools in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD), presented projects ranging from liquid density to chemical reactions to the cultivation of molds and fungi. Because of the number of participants, the event was held on the field of the Carrier Dome.

"It's an exciting venue for the students to show off their work and it's a great way to encourage the kids to think in scientific ways," said Brandon Murphy, project coordinator with ESF Outreach.

For her project, Allison Barrett, a seventh grader at Edward Smith School, questioned the influence moisture plays on popcorn. Her display featured a sample of popcorn that had been presoaked before popping, another that had been baked in an oven prior to popping and a control group of unaltered popcorn. She found the control group popped best.

"I like that science can be fun and you can learn from it," she said. Of her project, she said "I wanted to do something fun. I like popping corn, but not eating it."

Students from Grant Middle School were looking for solutions to oil spills. "We wanted to help oil companies find a way to make oil less dense so it would float on the water and be easier to clean up," said Jennifer Locke.

Rodney Robinson, an eighth-grader at Roberts K-8 School, studied the effect temperature has on the reactioni between baking soda and vinegar. "I always get better grades and learn more about science when doing experiments." Robinson figures this approach to learning will help him in his future career endeavors to be a crime scene investigator.

The Environmental Challenge is designed to encourage student projects that support and extend the seventh/eighth-grade grade science curriculum; foster student and teacher research, scientific inquiry, and critical thinking; expand student exploration of science, engineering, and related careers and educational interests; and increase student exploration and understanding of the urban environment and its relationship to the global environment.