The Neosho Middle School's gymnasium was overflowing with young scientists Tuesday evening, as the school's sixth and seventh graders took part in the annual Science Showcase.
Keith Rook, assistant principal, said all sixth and seventh grade students have to create and present a project for class.
"They've all been invited to be here tonight and probably three-fourths of them are here making a presentation," Rook said. "They've worked on projects for at least a couple of weeks."
The tables were lined with colorful project boards as the students, working in pairs, stood with their creation waiting for the next person to stop by asking for a demonstration.
Seventh graders Baylee Scribner and Minnie Hathaway's project consisted of a bucket of water, note-cards, and plastic cups.
"What you do is you fill up the cup with water and you wet the paper down a little, then you set it over the cup and whenever you turn it upside down the air pushes up," Hathaway said.
As she did it, she held her finger over the small hole on the bottom of the cup, when she moved her finger, the vacuum seal was broken.
Scribner said she got the idea from a book.
"I was reading my Accelerated Reader book and I didn't know what to do, and it was a book called "Dark in the Skies," and it told me the idea," Scribner said. "So I wrote up a hypothesis and we did it."
Meanwhile, a few tables over, seventh graders Mikel Tandy and Gage Hurst were showing off their metal detector creation, inspired by Curious George.
Their setup included a box of dirt, paper clips, an AM/FM radio, a calculator and tape.
Tandy said the radio, with a calculator taped to the bottom, could identify when it came across a paper clip, which was mixed into the box.
"It sends a radio frequency from the radio to the metal, bounces it back and hits the calculator which plugs it into the radio and makes the popping noise," Tandy said. "[People] think it's pretty awesome."
Rook said the idea of the annual science showcase is to get students excited about learning.
"Even kids who don't usually get excited about science have all of a sudden seen it and are getting excited about it," Rook said. "It gives them a different way to look at learning."
For seventh graders Kylie Ropp and Emily Mojica, the project allowed them to learn more about a topic most middle school students enjoy: candy.
The students' project looked at the effect of pop rocks when put in a balloon and paired with a bottle of soda.
"Whenever you put pop rocks in a balloon and then you put the balloon on top of the bottle with pop rocks, it will expand the balloon and with different types of soda it will expand differently," Mojica explained.
Page 2 of 2 - The girls said they had had early luck when pairing the pop rocks and balloon with Mountain Dew, though on Tuesday evening, Sprite seemed to be working the best, while Dr. Pepper did not create as much expansion.
"We were going to do why pop rocks pop and if they pop in soda," Mojica said. "We were looking on the internet about pop rocks and then this showed up and it looked really cool."
Attendance at Tuesday evening's event was high, with enough proud parents, grandparents and friends to make moving through the aisles of science projects a tight squeeze at some times.
And with the high number of spectators, students were given even more chances to demonstrate their projects, allowing them the chance to practice another objective that Rook said the school was focusing on.
"Part of our objectives for a lot of different things at these grade levels is trying to get them to do public speaking," Rook said. "Public speaking is not an easy objective to meet. This gives them the chance to face the public without doing a full-blown speech."