FOSS Middle School Students Create a Winning DOL Project!

Susan Berglund, Manager, MGH/Timilty Partnership, Roxbury, Massachusetts
September 01, 2005 | FOSS in Schools

Top image: Yeriseli and Roytel display their award-winning science project.

In Mr. Cho's seventh-grade science class at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, Massachusetts, science does not end when class is over. The students have become so involved with their investigations from the Diversity of Life Course that they have extended their research to the development of science fair projects.

Questions always arise during class lessons, but two students took their questions and continued to investigate the way they learned in class, as a team. Yeriseli and Roytel investigated vials of "mystery" materials to determine whether they were living or nonliving. They had many discussions about the materials while working as a team. So when Mr. Cho began talking about science fair projects, they immediately thought about working with seeds. They discussed planting the seeds in vials and making observations just as they had done in class. Yeriseli and Roytel decided to change the growing surface in each vial. The question they would investigate was, "What is the effect of different growing surfaces on the germination of rye grass?"

Yeriseli and Roytel designed an experiment to answer their question. They used four vials to test different surfaces: cotton, paper towels, potting soil, and water. They decided on these materials because they were familiar with the properties of the materials from science class. It was a challenge to grow the seeds at home and to still work as a team. To accomplish this they created identical experiments in each location. Each student recorded data over the course of seven days. Yeriseli said, "We called each other every 12 hours to see if there were any changes. It was frustrating when one person saw seeds growing and the other didn't because we thought the results should all be exactly the same."

As the experiment continued, Yeriseli and Roytel discovered that it was good to have a partner to share the work. They tried to share the responsibilities evenly when possible. It was also nice to discuss the science fair project and the results of their research with each other. According to Roytel, "It was more enjoyable to have someone to talk with about the project. We were talking about science, and it was fun."

Roytel and Yeriseli were surprised when they were finalists at the school science fair, but they were even more surprised when their project won third place in the Boston Regional Science Fair. "We were intimidated by all of the complex projects at the regional fair. We did not think a simple project on rye grass had a chance of winning." But the judges were impressed by their knowledge of the topic, the design of the project, and most of all by the teamwork that created an award-winning project.

Congratulations to Roytel and Yeriseli on their winning effort!

For more information about the Science Connection Program, contact:

Susan Berglund
Manager, MGH/Timilty Partnership
205 Roxbury Street
Roxbury, MA 02119
phone/fax 617.445.5712