By Kristin Schultz
There may have been snow on the ground, but knowledge was budding and blooming in March as Niskayuna elementary school students hosted family, friends and neighbors at their annual learning fairs.
Each year, students are invited to choose a topic of interest, research and present on the subject. Student participation is voluntary, with every school’s PTO organizing and hosting each event.
More than 75 Glencliff Elementary kindergarten through fifth-graders prepared presentations on topics ranging from jellyfish to the Electoral College and on Friday, March 10, they stood by their trifold exhibit boards ready to inform the community.
First-grader Gurnoor Bhamra researched and presented on the water cycle. Using a pointer, she explained how evaporation and rain are connected. She reported working on her project for “a long time.”
Second-grader Vidispai Pitta spent around two weeks putting his volcano project together. After a lively explanation about how volcanoes work, onlookers were treated to an actual volcanic eruption (courtesy of baking soda and vinegar). As an added bonus, Pitta handed out candy if visitors could correctly answer a question about volcanoes.
Finding buried treasure with metal detectors was the theme at Liam and Drew Crabtree’s table. The fifth-graders received metal detectors for Christmas and quickly found a variety of items including nails, staples and quite a few “stinkin’ Lincolns” (pennies). The boys’ favorite find was an old Girl Scout medal.
Megan McLaughlin loves hockey — and she is one of two girls on her Schenectady Youth Hockey team. She came dressed to play — complete with a mask, gloves and jersey. Her presentation on the Buffalo Sabres included a puck she got at one of the games.
Principal Shelley Baldwin-Nye presented each student with a certificate and a coupon for a free ice cream at Stewart’s.
“I love that the students have the freedom to choose a topic that’s interesting to them,” said Baldwin-Nye. “Often it’s a topic that is connected to something they have learned in the classroom or that they are thinking about in a new way.”
While the students were learning about a new or favorite topic, Baldwin-Nye enjoyed learning more about her students.
“One student’s presentation was on the Electoral College,” she said. “He has a real intense interest in politics and I didn’t know that before.”
Learning fair participation increased this year at Glencliff. Last year, around 60 students participated while this year saw a total of 77 students who signed up to learn and share at the event.
Craig and Birchwood Elementary Schools kicked off the month of learning with fairs on March 2, followed by Glencliff, then Hillside School on March 16 with Rosendale Elementary School closing out the month with its March 23 fair.