EXPERIMENTAL IDEAS  Borax crystals (pictured), bacteria being subjected to different toxins and spinach plants grown in diff erent soil types are just some of the examples of experiments that will be showcased at the fi rst-ever DTSS Science Fair on March 10th. Photo submitted

EXPERIMENTAL IDEAS Borax crystals (pictured),bacteria being subjected to differenttoxins and spinach plantsgrown in different soil types arejust some of the examples ofexperiments that will be showcasedat the first-ever DTSSScience Fair on March 10th.Photo submitted

The burning desire to ask questions about science has motivated Grade 8 and 9 students at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) to conduct research and present their findings this school year.

The first-ever DTSS student-led science fair on Thursday, March 10th between 7 and 9 p.m. will be open to the public to attend and free of charge. The fair will be taking place in the library and cafeteria of the school.

Im hoping to make it an annual event, said Tessa Bartz, DTSS science teacher and event organizer. Theres a new curriculum coming into the school system and it really encourages student-led inquiries, which basically means that students ask their own questions about what theyre interested in learning and then work on finding out the answers. In science, how you look for answers to questions is by doing experiments so with the new curriculum coming in, it just made sense to get the kids working on their own science fair projects (because) I think its more fun to work towards a big event rather than just doing the project and not presenting it.

She explained the new curriculum has been created for students from kindergarten up to Grade 9.

This is the transition year, so teachers can choose to either use the new curriculum or not, said Ms. Bartz, noting she opted to utilize the new teaching resources and material during this school year.

Then, next year, its fully implemented so all of the K-9 classes will be on the new curriculum.

The science fair assignment was given out to 60 Grade 8 and 9 students this semester.

When asked why Ms. Bartz extended an invitation to the science fair to the Columbia Valley community, she replied: For the community, themselves, its a neat opportunity to see what our high-schoolers are capable of and also theres quite a wide variety of topics to take in so theres some neat stuff and you might actually learn something. For the benefit of the kids, having members of the public come in, it shows the kids that their work is valued and that science is important to people more than just their teachers.

Ms. Bartz opted to use a science fair to give students an opportunity to have some fun while showcasing individualized, hands-on experiments. She believes the new curriculum was well-received by students at the high school.

Some of them have picked ideas that are a little bit over their heads, she said. Theres been some really ambitious projects so its been a little bit chaotic and a little bit of a gong show at times, but ultimately, the fact that they get to do what they want to do has really made them enthusiastic about it.

In fact, some of the Grade 11 students will be volunteering to supervise and a few Grade 12 students will be helping judge the projects at the end of the day-long fair.

Some of the projects have even pushed the boundaries at DTSS.

I had a kid who wanted to test flammable substances, so she basically lit different things on fire and investigated how they burned thats pretty cool, said Ms. Bartz. We have crystal growing projects; I have an earthworm farm in our classroom. Some of the kids tested various things to do with the earthworms so theres a really good variety of the projects. Ultimately, the kids have been really into it since they get to choose what they want to do.