The winner

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Alaria Clauss of Fuller School in Keene tells the judges about her project, “How Diapers Absorb Water,” at the New Hampshire 4th Grade Water Science Fair in Plymouth on May 9. Alaria won first place at the state fair.

What happens to the density of water when it’s heated? How do hydraulics work? What are the stages of the water cycle?

To many adults, these might seem like difficult questions — but for area 4th-graders, they’re no sweat.

This month, 4th-graders from Harrisville, Keene, Marlborough, Surry and Westmoreland presented projects on topics like these at the New Hampshire 4th Grade Water Science Fair in Plymouth — and the three top students recognized at the fair are from the Monadnock Region.

To participate in the fair, students must first compete at their school and city fairs with an experiment, research project or demonstration on a water-related topic.

Eric Swope, industrial pre-treatment coordinator at the Keene Wastewater Treatment Plant, oversees the Keene Water Science Fair, which has been happening since 1997.

In Keene each year, Swope visits the city’s four elementary schools to introduce the project to the 4th-graders. Then, each school holds its own water science fair, and the top three students from every school move on to the city fair. From there, three students move on to the state fair.

At each fair, they must present their work to a panel of judges, which can be nerve-wracking for a 4th-grader.

“It gives them a chance to practice being a presenter, a chance to practice doing a research project,” Swope said. “If nothing else, it gives them an opportunity to be a scientist and kind of dig into a project on a pretty deep level.”

This year, students from Keene took first and second place at the state water science fair, with Alaria Clauss from Fuller Elementary School coming in first with her project, “How Diapers Absorb Water,” and Jack Quarry from Wheelock Elementary School taking second with his project, “Suds: The Hard and Soft of It.” Another student from the Monadnock Region, Ashton Foreman from Harrisville received third place at the state fair, and Emma Petrovich from Symonds School received an honorable mention.

At a meeting of the Keene Board of Education last week, Jack Quarry and Emma Rae St. Arnauld, a student from Wheelock who received an honorable mention at the city fair, told the board about their projects and the experience of completing research and presenting to a panel of judges.

They both learned a lot of science, but they gained other skills, too.

“I learned that you have to manage your time well to get something accomplished,” Emma said.

Swope said he’s proud to have so many students from Keene and the surrounding area be recognized at the state fair.

“They’ve always done fairly well; in the last two years, they’ve done exceedingly well. Last year they took three out of the top four spaces, and the year before that they actually took the top four, which is kind of unheard of for us,” he said.

The level of the work is impressive for the students’ age, Swope said — and the fair gives them an opportunity to really dive into the role of scientist.

“We want kids to be literate about water-related issues. Just in general, though, the chance to get exposed to sciences is I think pretty important,” he said. “And it’s surprising that we get a lot more out of 4th-graders than people would normally expect — how well they can understand it and then teach it back to us.”

Registration is now open for the 2018 Kids DeMar Marathon program. Participating students will run or walk a total of 25 miles over the course of the summer. Then, after turning in a log of the miles before Sept. 7, they’ll finish the last 1.2 miles of the Clarence DeMar Marathon course on race day, Sept. 30. Each child who participates will also receive a free T-shirt and goodie bag.

Students currently in kindergarten through 5th grade are eligible to participate, and can register through their elementary schools. For more information, visit clarencedemar.com/race-information/race-descriptions. Students who are homeschooled can get information by emailing rudy.fedrizzi@gmail.com.

The Keene School District Trustees of the Trust Funds have announced the establishment of the Priscilla Callahan Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will annually award $500 to one graduate of Keene High School who has completed two years in the early childhood education program at the Cheshire Career Center. The recipient should also plan to pursue a degree in education.

The fund was established in honor of Priscilla E. Callahan, a Troy native who worked in the Keene School District. Callahan was dedicated to early childhood development and helped establish the Troy Cooperative Preschool and Kindergarten.

The first scholarship will be awarded this year.

Note: This article has been updated to correct the name of a student who received an honorable mention at the Keene Water Science Fair.  

What’s going on in your school? Let us know! Education reporter Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or mmcintyre@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MMcIntyreKS.

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