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Long IslandEducation

Schoolchildren must do ‘brain work’ for Brookhaven lab’s science fair

Brookhaven National Laboratory held its annual Elementary School Science Fair for kindergarten through sixth grade from Suffolk County schools on Saturday, May 6, 2017. About 450 projects were presented.  (Credit: Ed Betz)

Alexander Boyd of Cutchogue — dressed in a small white lab coat and protective glasses — and his twin sister, Hannah, said they couldn’t get enough of science.

“For me, I like that you’re always learning something new,” said Alexander, 6.

“I like that it makes your brain work,” Hannah added.

For two weekends, the Boyd twins worked on their science project “Currentricity,” which tested water, salt water, maple syrup and vegetable oil to determine which fluid was the best conductor of electricity. Vegetable oil was the winner.

The Boyds were among hundreds of Suffolk County children in grades kindergarten to six competing Saturday at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s annual Elementary School Science Fair in Upton.

For more than two hours, Brookhaven scientists and local schoolteachers — roughly 60 volunteers in total, organizers said — judged as many as 450 science projects from 108 Suffolk schools on topics ranging from how music affects the heart to the effects of natural pesticides and uniform circular motion.

Matthew Macartney, 6, a kindergartner at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School in East Northport, and his brother Aiden, 8, were celebrating with their parents as Matthew took home first place among kindergartners for his experiment that tested five methods to quickly cool down water.

Matthew said he got the idea from watching “MythBusters,” one of his favorite TV shows.

“He’s been dying to do the science fair,” said his mother Tiffany Macartney of East Northport. “I did the science fair for years when I was a kid, so to see them do it, it’s been really fulfilling because it’s their effort and they really wanted to do it. And they had fun, which was the best part of doing it.”

Volunteers and judges said they enjoyed seeing what young minds could create.

“For a fourth-grader to come up with novel ideas that as a scientist and as a teacher we hadn’t thought about, that’s great. That’s our next generation,” said Gail Mattson, one of the judges and associate lab director of environment, safety and health at Brookhaven National Lab.

As he considered what he could build as an adult scientist, Alexander Boyd was already dreaming big.

“Maybe I can build something that hovers, or I can build something that takes people from over here,” Alexander said excitedly as he quickly ran from the table holding up his project to another table, “and puts them over here.”

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