Unlocking secrets of science

By: Nick D’Amore
   Students at the Upper Elementary School got a chance to use what they have learned throughout the year and show off their knowledge to their parents Monday at the school’s Fifth Annual Math, Science and Technology Night.
   Each classroom had a different experiment or presentation, which was thoroughly explained and demonstrated by the students in the class.
   Sixth-graders in Mark Celio’s class showed visitors how to determine seasons, how tides occur and the significance of constellations.
   Khushbu Solanki and Josh Markowitz, sixth-graders in Mr. Celio’s class, used four globes surrounding a light bulb to show the season changes as they occur in the United States.
   The bulb acted as the sun and the globes were positioned with different tilts corresponding to the Earth’s tilt for each season. Parents were then asked to guess which season each globe represented.
   Mr. Celio’s students Anthony Bavaro, Steven Gonzalez and Dan Mortiz used a globe, a Styrofoam moon and a string to explain the tides.
   "The moon’s gravity creates a bulge in the earth’s oceans, creating tides," said Anthony.
   With the three students and a fourth volunteer holding a string around a globe, two people on either side would move away and two would move towards, creating high tide on one side and low tide on the other.
   "There are two high tides and low tides throughout the day," said Anthony.
   At the front of the room, Arielle Tuskey and Emily Clark, also sixth-graders in Mr. Celio’s class, demonstrated the geographic significance of the constellations.
   Using an overhead projector, the students showed the different constellations seen in different seasons.
   Arielle showed that Orion is a winter constellation, Pegasus is an autumn constellation, Scorpio appears in the summer and Leo is seen in the spring.
   "You can look at Ursa Major and the North Star to tell what the seasons are," she said.
   Emily explained the story of Orion and Scorpio and why they appear in opposite seasons.
   "Orion was the best hunter and he made the gods mad. So, the gods made a creature, Scorpio, to kill Orion. He stung Orion and Orion died. That’s why you’ll never see them in the same sky, because they are enemies," said Emily.
   Fifth-graders in Glenn Ferraris’ class were using their math skills to be creative, make tangrams and tessellation.
   Mr. Ferraris said a tangram uses seven pieces that come together to make a square.
   "It’s a problem solving skill. They can also make different shapes and geometric patterns," he said.
   One of Mr. Ferraris’ students, William Low-Beer, was using the Internet to make a tessellation person.
   On his screen was a grid of triangles and a variety of shapes that could be fit into the grid to make shapes.
   "It’s coming along pretty good," said William, as he put the finishing touches on the mouth. "It’s really kind of fun."
   In Vicki Dimino’s fifth-grade class, Alyse Soriano and Nick Gallagher were teaching how to divide numbers the way ancient Egyptians did.
   Nick explained how the Egyptians made a chart, with numbers running down two columns. Then, he showed the process they had of dividing the numbers to get the answer and how to convert numbers to Egyptian numbers.
   Alyse explained how she and her classmates had a variety of missions to accomplish, such as retelling an ancient myth, with visuals or a three-dimensional display.
   "They love it," said Ms. Dimino. "They get a new mission each week to complete. They’re really good with it."
   The parents who attended the night were similarly pleased with the work of their children and their fellow students.
   "I was extremely impressed. It’s all their own work," said Allison Carroll, whose son Tommy attends UES.
   Her husband, Tom Carroll, also was struck by the work of the students.
   "It’s creative and challenging. They didn’t do this when I was a kid," he said.
   Mariola Lawnick, a fifth-grade teacher, demonstrated an innovative way for her students to learn multiplication.
   Her Bing-Eggo game combined the rules of bingo with egg cartons with different numbers written inside.
   Two students would shake cartons to come up with two numbers, which the rest of the students had to multiply together. Those with the correct answer in their egg cartons, places a bingo marker on the number.
   The Bing-Eggo winners won some sweet and tasty candy treats.
   "The purpose is to review their math functions in a fun, creative and memorable way," said Ms. Lawnick.
   Kokona Chrisos, the fifth-grade assistant principal, organized the event and said the night follows the UES tradition of showcasing student work.
   "It’s an opportunity to share what they know about math, science and technology in a family night," she said.
   "It was really neat, seeing parents and kids working on the same thing," she said.
   Ms. Chrisos said more and more parents show up to the night every year.
   "Parent support has been amazing. The kids feel a sense of pride," she said.