Breaking the Play-Doh myth

Play-Doh acts as an armour — or does it? Twenty-four Grade 5 students from West Park Elementary School tested this theory in a science experiment that challenged the protection abilities of the modelling clay.



Play-Doh acts as an armour — or does it?

Twenty-four Grade 5 students from West Park Elementary School tested this theory in a science experiment that challenged the protection abilities of the modelling clay.

And in doing so, the youngsters snagged second place in a Alberta Science Happens Here MythBusters contest organized by the Science Alberta Foundation.

Science Happens Here runs a six-week program in rural Albertan communities working with colleges, local residents and businesses to highlight the use of science and careers in that area.

As part of this year’s program in Olds and Red Deer, a community and school contest open to schools and community groups (in two separate categories) was conducted.

Participants were required to develop a hypothesis and use science to determine if it is “busted, confirmed or requires more research.” A video demonstrating the experiment was required.

Of the 45 school entries, most were at the high school level.

The top three earned tickets to the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters show and a meeting with the show’s stars.

Grade 5 teacher Katie Bruinsma uses MythBusters in the classroom to partially teach the scientific method, to increase excitement and to show science can be fun.

When her students told her the MythBusters show was coming to Red Deer, she researched and found the “Bust a Myth” contest.

“The class brainstormed and they chose the myth to bust,” said Bruinsma.

“A lot of them wanted to do things like Coca-Cola and Mentos because they saw the explosion.

“One mentioned this Play-Doh video and we looked at it and as a class we decided that would be a good one to bust.”

She said the project was a good opportunity to reinforce the scientific method skills and it fit into the Grade 5 science curriculum.

“The kids were involved in all of it,” said Bruinsma.

“They designed the experiment. They chose the myth. They scripted it and acted it. And then we studied the results together. The class was in charge of everything.”

Francesa Garigue, project co-ordinator of Science Happens Here, Science Alberta Foundation, said a winning entry has both science and creativity. Scientific inquiry is about 50 per cent of the score, presentation is 30 per cent and originally is 20 per cent.

“The goal of Science Happens Here is to get the community and to get our youth talking about science,” she said.

“We want to inspire healthy curiosity about science and kinda demythify the fact that it is not always done in a lab and it is not always complicated. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand it. There’s science that happens in everyday things.”

Olds High School’s Grade 11 class took first place while the Holy Trinity Catholic School Grade 1 class in Olds placed third.

The first place entry in both divisions will have their video played at the MythBusters show.

Two MythBusters shows in Red Deer on Saturday and at the Ralph Klein Centre in Olds on Sunday have sold out.

First place honours in the community contest went to brothers Craig and Adam Holder.

Second place went to brothers Colin and Kolby Chant while Nick Ekelund, Bryan Burdick and Steven Burdick placed third.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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