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Science Fair Results

June 6, 2014
OUSD 2014 Science Fair

4th Grade representatives Natalie and Phillip L. Photo: OUSD

By Peyton W.

Montclair 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders turned in their science fair projects several weeks ago, on Thursday, April 10. The results are now in and a few science fair projects really stood out this year. Teachers picked two science fair projects from each of the upper grades that they thought were interesting to represent Montclair at the OUSD Science Fair, which took place on Wednesday, May 21 at Chabot Space & Science Center.

“It’s not a contest per se, but there is a rubric and the projects chosen must meet standards of the Scientific Method to be considered,” said 4th grade teacher Ms. Chanter.

Congratulations to all our young scientists on your experiments and explorations this year!

3rd Graders
Piper W. – The Anatomy of a Purr
Nikhila R. – Scientific Movement

4th Graders
Caden W. – Which Sorbent Absorbs Oil Most Efficiently?
Natalie and Phillip L. – Impure Water and its Effect on the Growth of Seeds

5th Graders
Pilar B. – Can Music Affect Your Ability to Focus?
Max L. – Harmonics on a Stratocaster Guitar

I interviewed Max L., a 5th grader in Ms. Pearson’s class, to find out a little more about his science project on Harmonics:

Peyton: What was your project?
Max: My project was about harmonics on a guitar. A harmonic creates a lasting ringing out sound, like a bell, that happens when you put your finger lightly over a specific place on the fretboard and strum the strings. Electric guitars have pickups (electric magnets that amplify sound). My hypothesis was that if I changed the pickup, using the pickup selector lever, the location of the harmonic would change.

P: How did you come up with the idea for your project?
M: Last year I saw this project when I was doing online research. I had already decided on my 4th grade project, but I really wanted to learn more about harmonics. This year, I felt I really should do it because I’ve been writing my own music and experimenting with the different sounds I can get from my guitar.

P: How did you test your project?
M: There are three different pickups on my guitar. I picked one control and measured the guitar string in centimeters, and then measured the distance between the bridge and the location of the harmonic on the fretboard. I did the same measurement for each string and my variable was the different pickup selection.

P: What was your result?
M: My hypothesis was partially correct. The pickup changed the tone of the harmonic, but not the location.

P: Did you learn anything interesting from your project?
M: Yes, I learned more about pickups. I learned how they are constructed with coils of metal and magnets. I learned how the pickup is an inductor and how it amplifies string vibrations or sound waves. I also learned that harmonics are placed at exact fractions on the guitar string (at 1/2, 1/4, and 1/6). This is interesting and makes sense if you understand sound frequency/wavelength. I also think it’s cool that I can customize my electric guitar by changing out the pickup. Understanding the science behind the pickup makes me feel more confident when I go into a music store and want to buy parts.

P: What do you like the most about science?
M: I like that you get to guess about things and then experiment about what you’re going to do. Science is my favorite subject in school.

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