BUCHANAN, N.Y. – An excited crowd of students gathered in Buchanan-Verplanck Elementary School. The students stood near 55 projects, submitted to the school's third annual science fair.
Co-teacher pair Sarakay Eyring and Catherine Holzman organized the fair and its 83 student participants. Participation is voluntary and represents more than a quarter of the students in the elementary school.
"It's the investigative, the wondering, the thinking like scientists they really do," said Holzman.
Eyring said, "We really lack that in school right now," saying she would accomplish her goal for the science fair, "If we can share that kind of enthusiasm for wondering and being a learner."
Students from kindergarten to fifth grade presented projects ranging from inhabitants of the ocean, to scales, to anemometers that measure wind speeds. Kindergartener Emily Stout, 6, said she learned from her project entitled, "Sea Creatures," that, "Even if they look the same, they don't have to live in the same place."
Monica Balcuilim, 11, said she learned through the anemometer project that, "Wind can go different speeds in different places."
The first year of science testing begins in fourth grade and according to data collected by New York Times, Buchanan-Verplanck Elementary is under the median of 100 for New York State, at 97.
Testing scores for the 2011-2012 school year are expected to come back in July and first-year principal Joshua Cohen said he is awaiting their arrival optimistically. "Since September, people have worked on not only test prep, but what you need to succeed," he said.
Last year Buchanan-Verplanck Elementary was "identified for improvement," by the state education department, because special needs and economically disadvantaged populations in the school missed marks for reading and math two years in a row.
District officials said that since special needs students from across the district are transported to Buchanan-Verplanck, it could skew the score, and added that students missed the benchmark by two points.