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2016 SARSEF Winners!


By Anna Domitrovic

Well, the SARSEF organization switched things around on us this year.  Rather than mid-March, the science fair and judging happened the first week in March, with judging on the 3rd and awards presentation on the 5th at 2 PM for K-5th grade and at 7 PM for middle and high school. But that didn’t deter our intrepid group of judges. Jeannette and Bob Barnes were new to the judging team this year. But return judges Elaine and Bob Royer served as coaches. It was “the girls” judging against “the boys” for the kindergarten through 5th grade projects, and your team leader (that’s me!) judging the middle school, 6th through 8th grades, projects. Longtime team participant, Janet Reue, couldn’t join us on judging day as it’s her docent day at the Desert Museum (the nerve!), but she did help on Saturday presenting our elementary school awards. Those of you who expressed an interest in SARSEF on your membership applications but didn’t make the cut this year, hang in there! I plan to give all of you a chance at participating in this community outreach event.

As for the winners… we went to a 6th grader for the middle school award. Asiel Carranza goes to Gallego Intermediate Fine Arts School. His project, “Measuring the Weight Resistance of Different Metals,” was more in the engineering category, but it got our attention anyway. Using different metal rods, each topped by a five gallon bucket, he added water to the bucket until the rod bent. He then compared how much water in weight was needed to bend each rod. Kelley Brooks-Cavaletto is Asiel’s teacher.

The elementary school project awards came from the 4th, 2nd and kindergarten grades. Our 4th grader was Daria Muratalieva for her project, “Jumping for Geodes: Can You Tell the Inside from the Outside.” She started with ten golf ball-size, uncut geodes and attempted to predict the color and size of the internal crystals by studying the outside, then cracked them open to see if her hypotheses were correct. 70% right on the color, but only 30% on the size. Daria goes to Painted Sky Elementary where she is taught by Mrs. Ronnie.

Aviel Arellano, a 2nd grader at Casas Christian School where his teacher is Yvette Robinson, got our nod for his project, “Are These Rocks Thirsty?” He gathered examples of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks, and then determined how much water they would absorb when left to soak. He determined that granite was the least porous and highly recommended granite for countertops. Great advice, Aviel!

And finally, Dalton Grissom, a home schooler at the kindergarten level, received our award for his project, “Awesome Crystals.” This was a crystal-growing experiment using some typical mediums, but the work that went into it and the execution of his displayed project couldn’t be overlooked by our judging team. Pictures even showed him wearing protective gear! Good for you, Dalton and congratulations to mother Kathy.

After our judging job was done, we sat in the caucus area to recap SARSEF 2016. More than 1500 projects were submitted this year. One thing we noticed as we looked for projects to judge in our category was the absence of “cookie cutter” themes. One can tell when a project was designed after science fair idea books. We’ve seen many projects with “what’s the best thing to clean pennies” or "growing salt" and "sugar crystals." But this year was different. New ideas and different ways of doing those tried-and-true projects. It was fun and interesting.

This community outreach event is and has been something very special for TGMS for quite some time now. At the awards presentation program on Saturday, mention was made of an article in the newspaper announcing the very first science fair back in 1955. And lo and behold, guess who was also included in the article as one of the first sponsors? Yes, it was none other than the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society. That is certainly something to be proud participants since the very beginning. And this year, special thanks, kudos, accolades and all things grateful and cheery go to our judges Elaine and Bob Royer and Jeannette and Bob Barnes, and to award presenter Janet Reue. Can’t do this for so many years without the team effort! So we can all take a breather for now, but let’s not forget … there’s always next year to look forward to and anticipate.