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posted: 2/7/2010 12:01 AM

Itasca students get their science on

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  • F.E. Peacock Middle School sixth grader Henry Miller discusses his project at the school's science fair.

    F.E. Peacock Middle School sixth grader Henry Miller discusses his project at the school's science fair.
    Marco Santana | Daily Herald staff


As far as squirrels are concerned, a nut is a nut is a nut. If you want a rose to reach its potential, place it in a bottle of Sierra Mist. And if you need someone to remember something for you, make sure you ask a girl because their memories are better than boys' memories.

These were just a few of the observations and conclusions reached by students at F.E. Peacock Middle School in Itasca during preparation for the school's science fair, held Saturday in the gymnasium.

Although the number of entries dipped from last year, Principal Reinhard Nickisch said that does not mean that the projects are any less impressive.

"There's no question that the quality of the projects is far elevated this year," he said. Among those projects was the gender-based memory test created by sixth graders Katie Collins, 12, and Sarah Czuma, 11. The pair showed subjects 13 pictures for 10 seconds. Afterward, they were asked to list, by memory, as many objects in the pictures as they could. On average, girls scored higher than boys.

Katie said she enjoys science and liked working on the project, which had to incorporate the scientific method.

"It's interesting to see how everything works," she said.

While the memory project confirmed Collins' hypothesis, Savannah Nickel was shocked when she saw what Sierra Mist could do to a rose.

Over a period of five days, Savannah, 11, watched as roses dipped in the soda bloomed much more illustriously than those in other liquids.

As judges roamed the room, students had to describe their methodology. They also had to clearly understand exactly what they did through the whole process in order to become familiar with the scientific method.

This method will ultimately help them in their daily lives, said one of the judges, Rosemary Krizan. She said everything from buying a car to buying a home incorporates that thought process.

"They have to understand that there's some research that has to be done," said Krizan, a substitute teacher who has judged the event for several years. "You have to get rid of emotional attachments to those decisions."