MONTVILLE, NJ – On Feb. 20, more than half of the nearly 400 Valley View Elementary School students gathered with their families to participate in the 15th Annual Valley View Science Fair.

Working alone or in teams, the young scientists spent hours exploring, experimenting and documenting their research.  Ultimately, the science fair included displays that explored all areas of science. Robots, mummies, light, water, air, freezing, thawing, magnets, catapults, rain, vision and volcanos were among the many topics students studied.

“All these snow days have helped,” said Principal, Dr. Patricia Kennedy. “They had time to work on their projects.”

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Second grade twin brothers, Sam and Matthew Martino were among the 200 students who participated in the event. Sam built a model Trebuchet Catapult and Matthew constructed a volcano. Both models worked in order to illustrate the science that inspired the projects. Paul Martino, the boys’ father, noted that he assisted with cutting and instructions, but both students assembled the models.

“It took Sam eight or nine hours to build the catapult. I helped him with the knots. It’s pretty detailed,” said Mr. Martino. “Matthew built the volcano, with toothpicks and Styrofoam under plaster, in about five hours.”

A team of second grade girls said they took advantage of the snow days. Twins Caroline and Nicole Slunt joined forces with Ava Failla and Lindsay Probst to explore how liquids expand.

“We froze different liquids and measured how much they expanded,” explained Caroline. “We learned that milk expands the most, because of the fat, and salt water the least.”

“There was learning going on even though we were home,” noted Caroline and Nicole’s mom, Katine Slunt. She added that the group used two of February 2014’s many snow days to research, organize and complete the project. 

Projects from kindergarten through second grade were displayed in Valley View’s all purpose room, while the school’s gymnasium housed projects presented by grades three through five.

At Srikanth Dhamodharan and Ryan Huang’s display, students and parents were encouraged to use robots to “catch” candy.

“I wanted to try something new,” said Dhamodharan of the project. “It was the first time I’ve ever made a robot.”

The two fifth-graders each built a different robot kit. They chose to use kits in order to learn how robots work. In building their robots, both Huang and Dhamodharan learned that sometimes even kits need modifications.

“The generator was too powerful,” Huang explained. “So we needed to find something to make it move more slowly.” Through experimentation, Huang added a series of larger wheels to the mechanism in order to slow down the robot’s movements.

“It takes a lot of time to set the screws in,” Dhamodharan said about what he learned by building his robot, “because it’s very precise.”

Each of the 200 student scientists who participated in Valley View’s Annual Science Fair received a certificate.