With experiments provided by A.C. Gilbert staff, parents and students discover the patterns in nature and the fun in science at Tangent Elementary School

Jada Bachica, 7, put a drop of water on a square of cardboard with a tiny hole punched in the middle and peered through her makeshift lens at a printed page below.

“Oh my goodness, that’s awesome!” the first-grader squealed as the letters loomed up at her. “Magnifying glass!”

Discoveries abounded Monday at Tangent Elementary School, where students and parents had been invited to an evening science fair as a kickoff to the school’s own science fair project.

Representatives from A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village in Salem brought more than a dozen scientific experiments for children to try. High school students from Santiam Christian Schools in Adair helped staff the booths.

Students were invited to make solar system mobiles, balance plastic cups through a careful arrangement of Popsicle sticks, and discover the loops and whorls of their fingerprints.

Bryce Hinkemeyer, 11, used a traditional magnifying device to get a good look at a mussel shell. From a distance, he agreed, the shell appeared to be black.

“When I came close, I saw the purple. I saw the blue. And I saw those little flakes,” Bryce said.

Replied Roman Shapla, outreach educator for the Salem children’s museum: “No matter what you look at in the natural world, when you look closer, you see a pattern.”

Tangent Elementary has its own annual student science fair, which this year is April 11-12. Janeen Tope-Lehn, who teaches fourth grade, said she was talking with Principal Kelley Guilliot, and Guilliot mentioned having heard the A.C. Gilbert House was available for visits.

The school’s parent club was willing to kick in some money, Tope-Lehn said.

She said she hoped the exhibits would prompt students to think in scientific terms, forming a hypothesis and determining what might happen if variables change.

“Science is in all parts of our life, even kitchen science,” she said.

Science fairs are great preparation for future careers, Guilliott added. “We’re right now preparing them for jobs that haven’t been created.”

Jennifer Moody is the education reporter for the Democrat-Herald. She can be reached at 541-812-6113 or jennifer.moody@lee.net.

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