Archive for May 5th, 2010

History at the Science Fair

by Treloar Bower, Curator of Education

I found another great intersection of history and science recently at, of all places, our recent district-wide science fair. Two students (both of whom were in the 10 top rankings, earning “Superior” designations) had projects studying weather phenomena and used archived records (ahem…history!) to investigate their hypotheses.

One student, Jared Rickey, 5th grader at Rivendell School, asked whether birth rates at Poudre Valley Hospital correlated to changes in barometric pressure. To investigate this question, he researched the birth records of PVH, documented the barometric pressure of each day for the last few years, and charted them together on a graph. Ultimately, he found no correlation between the two.

The second student, Jayson Deakins, a 5th grader at Shepardson Elementary, wondered, “Can Pets Predict Tornadoes?” He documented all tornadoes in Denver County dating from the late 1970s through present day. He then scoured archived classifieds for lost pet listings in the newspapers on dates correlating to the dates of the tornadoes. His hypothesis was that pets, sensing impending catastrophic weather, run away. Like the first student, he also did not find a relationship between the two events.

That said, both students had ideas for refining their research methods and expanding their “samples” for further studies. I would love to learn about what they find out!

What I most appreciate about these two projects is the use of archived records. While the purpose of the research was scientific in focus, it required information gleaned from historic documents. These two students demonstrated an understanding of the scientific method with the development of their hypotheses, investigation methods and conclusions, but they also practiced historic research methods by accessing archives.

Well done Jared and Jayson!  Want to come work for us?

May 2010

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