On Monday, February 24 , students in grades 7-10 attending Seventh-day Adventist schools around the state of Wisconsin gathered together on the campus of Wisconsin Academy* to share their projects and learn about skills and careers in STEM fields. Facilitated through the Education Department of the Wisconsin Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, students were asked to create a project that demonstrated their learning about something they had questions about. The areas of questioning were varied including science, history, and culture.
Maranatha School was represented by a student project testing out the effect of food coloring on plant growth. Inspired by earlier investigations of how water travels through celery that resulted in unexpected results; seeds and plants were tested for sprouting and root/leaf growth in designated water solutions of red, yellow, blue, and green food coloring. Then to be sure that there was a difference, a control batch was grown in plain tap water. 5 solutions were tested for each plant group investigated. Multiple growths of alfalfa and radish seeds to sprouts were grown, observed, measured, and recorded. Great northern beans were sprouted and the growth results were readily seen. Green onions, red sprouting potatoes, and aloe vera plants all were sampled in attempt to determine if food coloring really made a difference in how plants grow. The results were interesting. Solutions of blue appeared to boost the growth and get plants started quickly, but over time, the advantage wasn’t quite enough to necessarily make it reasonable to invest in using blue food coloring water solutions to grow plants. As the investigation was researched, it was discovered that a common nutrient is present in many plant foods and some food colors. That discovery led to the idea that it is probably not necessarily the color, but the processing of the color that helps the plants. However, more testing and extended ideas should be considered before making decisions.
Students also visited classes during the day to help introduce ideas of careers and skills that use science, technology, engineering, and math. The application of these skills in healthcare, communications, and robotics all rounded out the day. Presenters from around the state shared their passions and careers to help students consider how they too can turn something they enjoy learning about and doing into a good career.
Though presenting a project can be stressful, students did a good job. Maranatha's 8th grader reflected that she "enjoyed most of the classes, and was glad Mrs. Nelson was easy to talk to about my project." Moving as groups in a tightly scheduled day, students were able to be involved and engaged in classes and not overwhelmed during their presentation period. Walking around campus, one would observe many smiles, relaxed learning , and a sharing of experiences to look forward to in your next class. During the ride home at the end of the day, students shared what they learned and how they could use some ideas right away. Overall, it was a very good school day.
*Wisconsin Academy is in Columbus, Wisconsin.