Mammoth STEM School students

Mrs. Faulkenberry’s classes with their projects. Nina Crowder | Miner

Mrs. Scott’s class with their project. Nina Crowder | Miner

Mrs. Formo’s class with their projects. Nina Crowder | Miner

Ms. Vargas’s class with their project. Nina Crowder | Miner

San Manuel Miner

The Mammoth STEM school teachers and students should be commended for their participation in the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation Fair (SARSEF). This year’s fair was at the Tucson Convention Center in the middle of March. Over $48,000 in prizes and 14 scholarships were awarded. The Mammoth STEM School had steep competition with a total of 556 projects participating, but prevailed with securing nine awards ranging from first to third place. Three students won personal awards as individual entries.

SARSEF was created in 1955 as an event involving 100 science projects and it has grown into a competition for the southern half of Arizona. Each year SARSEF brings together educators, researchers, technology companies, parents and students for a five day celebration of science and scientific discovery. Last year 75,000 students from kindergarten to high school designed projects for their local science fairs. Only the best of those projects were selected to advance to regional competition at SARSEF.

The students were happy they were able to participate and said they had fun putting together projects. Mrs. Formo’s kindergarten class won first and second prize in the plant biology division. Mrs. Formo said, “Both of our projects were in the same category and we had the top two projects.” Cooper Dale of Mrs. Formo’s class entered an individual project on evaporating liquids and he won first place. The two class projects were Germ War and Balancing Act. In the Germ War, students tested many areas of the school for germs and found the bus to contain the most germs. The Balancing Act was to balance the ph in soil. Earthworms were used to balance the ph. Some of the soil was acidic and some was alkaline the worms were put in the soil and balanced the soils ph levels.

Mrs. Formo said, “The scientific method is used by all of us at the STEM school.” The scientific method is choosing your project, identify a problem, research the problem, develop a hypothesis, design the experiments, test the hypothesis, analyze the results, and finally formulate conclusions. Mrs. Formo said, “I believe we are facilitators, every step of the way the students are guided by me, but I do a lot of brainstorming with my class and I let them come up with ideas of working through the problems.”

Mrs. Falkenberry’s first grade class entered Worms and Pillbugs and Larvae Eat Our Garbage and won third place in the Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences category. This project was working with worms and feeding them different types of foods like egg shells, tea bags, coffee, vegetables, and bread, just to name a few. They found that mulberry and potato plants had the most worms. The second place in Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences also went to Mrs. Faulkenberry’s class for their project of Wigglers Through the Leaves. On this project they had several plants and measured different water, some of the containers had holes in the bottom and other plants didn’t have any holes for air. The students explained how the Chia plant grew and how they cultivated the seeds. They made Chia pudding and Chia milkshakes, they had taste tests and most of the students enjoyed the Chia pudding the most.

The first grade class wanted to share their favorite Chia pudding recipe: Put 1/2 cup chia seeds in a bowl, put 1/2 cup milk in blender and add one chopped banana or 2 Tbs. cocoa and 2 Tbs. sugar. Blend until smooth, pour milk mixture into bowl and whisk with seeds, add 1/4 tsp. vanilla and 2 Tbs. maple syrup, whisk again. Whisk every five minutes for a half hour. Cover and put in the refrigerator overnight.

Ms. Uttech’s second grade class entered an Earthworm Soil vs. Pillbug Soil project and won first place in the Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences category. The student separated worms and pillbugs, they grew plants in soil that contained worms and soil that contained pillbugs. The students grew mustard seeds. They recorded the growth of each plant they grew. Ms. Uttech said, “The potting soil actually grew the plants better, they found worms in the potting soil by accident, so that kind of skewed our results.” Kayla and Ethan from Ms. Uttech’s class told me that they had procedures to follow for the projects and that it was fun. Kayla enjoyed planting the seeds and watching them grow.

The fourth grade class guided by Ms. Scott won first place with their entry of Moisture from the Moon in the Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences category. Ysidro from Ms. Scott’s class said he really enjoyed measuring the growth of the plants.

The fifth grade class with direction from Ms. Vargas won second place for Recycling Grey Water Project in the Engineering, Physics and Mathematical Sciences category. Aracely Curry and Victoria Zazueta entered an individual project for sixth grade called Tea Time and they placed second in the Animal and Plant Sciences division. They made different tea from the compost and fed it to plants.

All the teachers and students represented Mammoth STEM school with dignity, pride and enthusiasm. Some of the up and coming scientists of the future can be found here.

Nina Crowder (33 Posts)

Nina Crowder is a resident of Mammoth. She volunteers in several local organizations. She covers events throughout the Copper Corridor and Superior Town and School governance.


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