Originally Published The Nugget News February 23, 2016
Author Jodi Schneider McNamee
The Sisters High School commons buzzed with excitement on Saturday for the fifth annual Sisters Science Fair. Students from all three Sisters schools showed off their educational experiments, displays, and demonstrations. Hundreds of folks expressed interest by watching or getting involved through hands-on challenges.
The fair was sponsored by the Sisters Science Club and free to all. “The Science of Nature” was this year’s theme and was evident throughout the fair with student displays, ranging from the “Science of Photosynthesis” to “What’s In Our Forest” and “Pop Bottle Ecosystem” drawings done by students from Sisters ElementarySchool.
The Sisters Science Fair is an educational opportunity to gather students, teachers, and ideas together in an environment immersed in science, technology, engineering, math and history.
Riding a bicycle is a life skill we learn as kids that sticks with us for a lifetime. Once you learn it you never forget it. But what if there was a special kind of bike that will make everything you learned useless?
Cal Allen, co-founder of the Sisters Science Club, was ignited with energy as he explained to The Nugget how the Backward Brain Bicycle works.
“It’s something brand-new this year, a reverse-steering bicycle. When you turn the handle bars right the wheels go left. And the question is: How far can you ride it? And the answer is: It’s impossible to ride. Your brain is fixed by what you know. It took the inventor eight months to learn how to ride this bicycle. And then it took him three hours to learn how to ride a normal bicycle again. Your adult brain is wired-in to know what you’re supposed to know.”
Sisters High School teacher Jon Renner was spotting riders as they tried their hardest to ride that unique bicycle.
“I tried the bike out and decided that it is basically impossible to ride,” Renner said. “But I noticed that for the younger kids it wasn’t quite as impossible.”
Fair-goers could easily spot the Science club members and volunteers in their creative bicycle helmets thatSisters Science Club President Bob Collins designed for each of them.
“My garage was full of scientific things that I’ve collected over the years, and I put some of it to use,” Collins said, chuckling.
Pocket billiard fans lined up to experiment with the elliptical pool table designed in a circular fashion with just one pocket. It is based on an ellipse, which is a closed, symmetric curve shaped like and oval, which can be formed by intersecting a cone with a plane that is not parallel or perpendicular to the cone’s base. In other words, when you hit the cue ball right it will always end up in the pocket.
SHS freshman Nancy Montecinos took time to explain what her display was all about.
“It’s the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. This is an independent study for those of us interested in psychology. The purpose of the test is to find your personality type, and why it’s understandable and useful in people’s lives. People are filling out our shortened version and it’s been very interesting.”
The planetarium is a favorite attraction every year, and looking at moon rocks under a microscope over at theSisters Astronomy Club display table was an eye-catching experience. There was something for everyone, even if you weren’t a science buff.
The Central Oregon Rocket Club had a display table with model rockets for viewing. And model kits for putting together for the small model rocket launch outdoors in the baseball field for spectators to watch at two separate times during the fair.
New this year as a hands-on challenge was a bicycle wheel weighted on a long pole or a gyroscopic umbrella that demonstrated angular momentum.
The spinning bicycle wheel resists efforts to tilt it and point the axle in a new direction. Any rapidly spinning wheel exhibits this gyroscopic property – and you can use this tendency to take yourself for a spin.
“It’s really a test of centrifugal force,” said volunteer Bonnie Malone, who was helping with the hands-on challenge.
ENERGYneering Solutions, Inc., a local company, drew a big crowd as usual with their 3D flight simulator. You can fly it like you’re piloting a real plane. Many kids lined up to try the flight simulator to test their flying skills.
The Design, Construct, Compete (DCC) contest was a competition of hand-designed mousetrap cars navigating around barriers and going the distance for cash prizes.
The DCC contest was held in the gym, conducted by Rob Corrigan. The cars had to travel a certain distance, then stop within a circle.
This year there were two contests: the first was for elementary school students, and this contest was about the furthest distance. The winner was Bergen Grisson and his teammate, R.J.
The first-place winner for the middle- and high-school mousetrap car contest was the “The Noodles” with Spencer Bordonaro and David Novotny designing the winning car as a team.