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Science expo at Elgin library draws more than 1,000 students

Gracen Mylott (left) MadisWatwood fifth-grade students Country Trails Elementary School Elgdisplay flowers used their science project Saturday Gail Borden Public

Gracen Mylott (left) and Madison Watwood, fifth-grade students at Country Trails Elementary School in Elgin, display flowers used in their science project Saturday at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. 4/14/12 | Denise Moran~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 16, 2012 8:28AM



ELGIN — The number of students participating in the annual Discovery Science Exposition at Gail Borden Public Library has grown from 286 in 2010 to more than 1,000 in 2012, according to expo organizers.

“The number of kids who are getting turned on about science is so exciting,” said Denise Raleigh, Gail Borden head of communications. “The number of community volunteers who support them is incredible.”

The expo was sponsored by the U46 Educational Foundation, School District U46, and the Gail Borden Public Library District.

The expo was first started by Carol Rauschenberger, an occupational therapist at U46 and mother of Zoe, 16; Bopha, 15; and Sam, 12.

“As a parent, I wanted this opportunity for my kids,” Rauschenberger said. “We came to Elgin from Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands near Guam. We lived there for three years before we moved to Elgin six years ago. They had a science fair there, and I got the ball rolling to have one for U46. Denise Raleigh and U46 District Superintendent Jose Torres suggested contacting the Gail Borden Public Library about holding the event there. We started planning for this year’s expo in November. We have had over 150 volunteers. Two of our main supporters are Kate Burlette, Gail Borden director of library experiences, and Deb Englehardt at U46.”

“The kickoff for the event took place in January when Jerry Zimmerman, Fermilab’s ‘Mr. Freeze,’ gave a cryogenics presentation at the library,” Burlette said. “The kids who came to the show were given applications for the science expo.”

The students who presented projects on Saturday each received a participation medal. There were no first-, second- or third-place winners.

“One parent asked me how the expo would be judged,” said Susan Lytinen, data projects specialist at Gail Borden. “Her kid spoke up and said it is just for fun.”

Students in kindergarten through sixth grade displayed their projects from 9 a.m. to noon. Middle and high school student exhibits were shown from 1 to 4 p.m.

The expo showcased student work of all ages from public, private and home schools in the U46 and library district boundaries.

“Kids researched things they had never looked at before,” said Burlette.

Eggs, chickens, M&Ms

Emmi Golonka, a fourth-grade student at Fox Meadow Elementary School in South Elgin, produced “bouncing eggs” by soaking them in vinegar for four days.

“I think it’s amazing what the kids come up with,” said Hanover Park resident Mary Holbach, Golonka’s grandmother. “This keeps the kids focused and learning.”

Khadijah Alam, a first-grade student at Hilltop Elementary School in Elgin, did an experiment that showed apple juice, water and Coca-Cola do not all freeze in the same way.

“Water froze the fastest,” Alam said. “Sugar kept the others from freezing as fast.”

Maya Santos, a second-grade student at Timber Trails Elementary School in Hoffman Estates, produced a simulation of how carbon dioxide is emitted from a volcano.

Gracen Mylott and Madison Watwood of Country Trails Elementary School in Elgin tested water boiled on a stove and in a microwave oven on house plants.

“Plants watered with the stove water grew faster than the plants watered with microwave water,” said Mylott.

Sixth-grade students Simran Lakhani, Brittany Do, Rachel Day and Sofia Peterwas hatched chickens.

“We got the eggs from a farmer, and Rachel’s aunt had an incubator,” Do said. “We will give the chickens back to the farmer.”

Principal Joe Corcoran of Harriet Gifford Elementary School in Elgin was visiting his students at the expo when he was asked if he could be one of the science project judges.

“We had a family science fair at our school earlier this year,” Corcoran said. “It’s great to see kids getting excited about science.”

Liam Tallman, a student at Harriet Gifford, presented the “M&M Survival Challenge.” He placed 100 M&M candies on matching colored paper to find out how prey (M&Ms) survive from predators (humans) when they blend in with the color of their surroundings. Tallman said the yellow M&Ms were the last to be eaten.

“I compared his experiment to an insect on a leaf,” said Tallman’s father, Matthew. “He learned about camouflage.”

Attendees at the expo included state Rep. Keith Farnham, D-Elgin; Sue Rakow, School District U46 Foundation board president; Toya Randall, Grand Victoria Foundation program director: Greg Walker, U46 assistant superintendent of secondary education; Gail Borden Public Library Trustees Herb Gross and Sue Moylan; Elgin Community College Trustee John Dalton; and Jeanette Mihalec of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce.



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