(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
Although without white coats, the Epiphany School in Dorchester was recently filled with a number of young scientists.
Students from the private, tuition-free school’s seventh and eighth-grade were busy presenting their projects Tuesday morning, sharing with teachers, fellow students, and judges what they learned and discovered.
“I think it’s fun,” Gianny Cepeda, a seventh-grader from Dorchester, explained as she showed off her project on memory. “You get to be creative with your board and feel the pressure when you have to present, but it’s fun.”
More than 40 of the school’s students were busy Tuesday, rushing around the school’s auditorium adding the finishing touches to their projects.
“I basically wanted to know if video games can be exercise,” said Dowey Tran, an eighth-grader from Dorchester.
Using both traditional exercises and an Xbox Kinect, Tran measured heart rates, ran volunteers through exercises, and researched the topic.
Although good old-fashioned exercise beat out the video games, Tran said his results were exciting, especially for an avid gamer like himself.
“I’m a pretty good science student and I enjoy it,” said Tran. “I like looking at the experiments and finding out about things.”
On the other side of the auditorium, Yogeeta Buchan, a seventh-grader from Dorchester, was presenting her project. Experimenting with plants, Buchan sought to find out if they respond better to natural or artificial light.
“This project made me like science,” said Buchan. “It made me want to learn and do more projects; maybe something on multi-tasking for next year.”
Tuesday's fair was at least the 10th-year the school has held it to get students excited about a subject often associated with not-so-stimulating textbook lectures and stuffy classrooms.
“It’s all about teaching them the scientific method,” said John Finley, head of school, which will celebrate it's 15th-anniversary this year. “This will help prepare them for all kinds of challenges and experiments they will face in science and math.”
Finley also said its important to get students interested in the sciences early.
“Middle school is an age where kids starts to push away and get on track for high school and their careers,” said Finley, who explained students at the Epiphany still have support from faculty when they graduate.
“If you can get them excited in middle school, it will get them on track for high school,” he said.
Although it was just the seventh and eighth-graders who took part in the projects, the whole school, which has fifth through eighth-grade students, was buzzing with excitement as younger students evaluated the older students projects and got excited for when it will be their turn.
“One of these projects can be the spark that inspires them about science,” said Frank Penny, the school’s seventh and eighth-grade science teacher. “It’s really about kids having fun learning. There’s a lot of emphasis on tests, which are important, but it’s also important for the kids to learn on their own and by experimenting.”
Eventually after all the projects are presented the top 10 will be chosen and evaluated and the best three will be selected. In addition to the work of the teachers and students, the school’s science program is sponsored by the Boston-based Cabot Corporation.