Heather Levinsky learned more than she planned to in the course of her science project at St. Cornelius School in Chadds Ford Township. True, the fifth-grader from Wilmington learned about building stability in earthquakes, but that wasn't her chief discovery.
"I learned you can't wait until the last minute, that you have to be responsible. Do the experiment and you'll learn," said the overall winner of the school's second annual science fair.
As for the project, she learned that buildings withstand the shaking of an earthquake better when they can move in two directions.
Her project involved shaking buildings for 10 seconds on three different surfaces, marbles, pieces of dowels and damp sponges. She said the buildings did better on the marbles because of the multi-direction. Dowels allowed for only lateral movement and the sponges allowed for very little movement.
There were a total of five winners, first, second, third, and two honorable mentions in the fair. Along with Levinsky were Megan Carney, Lindsay Concannon, Richie Santolera and Zachary Kelly, all fifth- and sixth-graders at St. Cornelius.
Concannon, a sixth-grader, learned you have to keep a neat logbook so you can read it later and Carney learned that you have to learn the method to solve problems.
"You always have to a plan B," Carney said.
Kelly learned another lesson. "Don't let boredom get you the better of you. Don't waste time," said the fifth-grader.
Science teacher Maria Henshey said the entire student body was involved in the fair, with different assignments given to each grade level.
Kindergarten students were give the job of making Earth Day-related objects such as making creations from recycled products. One student made a Star Wars Darth Vader from discarded plastic bottles.
Third graders built robots and fourth-graders dealt with electromagnets.
"Their job was to see if the number of coils around the core affected the strength of the magnet. They learned, using the scientific method how to graph and chart results with computer," Henshey said.
This was the second year for the science fair. Henshey said next year will be more significant because next year's winners will move on to a Delaware County science fair competition.