Gilpin scientists solve problems

Barbara Lawlor, Gilpin County.  Aucklynn Sacco, a fifth grade student at the Gilpin Montessori School, decided to try to figure out whether the Fibonacci sequence occurs in plants for her STEM Project. There aren’t many elementary school students who know what the Fibonacci number sequence even is, much less whether or not it occurs in plants.

Aucklynn looks forward to scientific or mathematical challenges. This is the third year in a row she has won the grand prize for her STEM science project; the best project in the entire school.

She used glitter glue to count the spirals in pineapple, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes and pinecones
A Fibonacci sequence series occurs when a number is found by adding the two numbers before it. It was named after the Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa. In her research, Aucklynn learned that pineapples and artichokes had spirals that followed the Fibonacci number sequence. She also learned that cauliflower and broccoli had Lucas number sequences that are similar to the Fibonacci, adding the sum of its two previous numbers, but Lucas sequence happens when a plant, like a pineapple, grows wrong and then fixes itself.


Aucklynn’s work reveals the amazing connection between math, nature, science and our environment, which is part of the STEM goals for the school.

The students who entered their STEM projects chose a problem they wished to solve and worked on creating a solution. Part of the assignment was the utilization of a scientific process, the steps it takes to complete a project.

Some of the projects were practical, some fantastic and some clever. One student wanted to find a way to make coffee and tea heat faster without overheating it. The reasons were simple: she didn’t want to be late for school.

The materials she needed included: a hot glue gun, a big fat bottle, and a skinny but large hollow stick.

Gavin Knaus’s project was to invent The Homework Bot 1,000, an ambitious project with a motive.

“If I design a robot that does kids’ homework, then the kids won’t have to do homework because kids don’t like doing their homework and they can do other fun activities like play on the phone.”

Equipment used: a beater for an electric mixer, a pencil, and a pencil sharpener.

Avery Ramsey was determined to solve her Tight Skates Problem. “When I get on the ice late and my skates are not tight, my feet hurt. I wanted my robot to help people stay warm and tie their skates so I invented the Amazing Skate Tightening  Robot. The robot could not stand up so I glued a flat piece of cardboard to the legs.”

Kira King saw a real problem in the world today and decided to come up with a Don’t Text and Drive invention.
“I built a prototype called the anti texting and driving. It looked like a can with wires coming out of it and had a remote. I can’t test it because it is a prototype, but it would stop the texting if someone is driving and save many lives.

Something we could also use, Annabelle Aloel designed a robot that throws a dog toy. “I wanted to make this for my dog so he would not be as hyper and be more healthy and live a longer life.” She needed more materials and needed to change some things but learned that if you make a mistake you should just try again.

Faith Ramsey invented a litter picker upper saying a piece of trash can turn into a bigger problem. Her litter picker upper is just a step towards more high tech cleaner uppers.

McKenna Summers decided to make her own mayonnaise like her grandmother does, but says it turned out kind of green because she used the wrong kind of oil. Now she knows she should use olive oil.

We can all learn something from these bright and curious students. Instead of just accepting the big or the small problems in our lives, we should try and figure out a way to solve them. The answers could surprise all of us.

The STEM Project Fair took place Thursday, November 17, 2016 and was organized by Montessori fourth and fifth grade teacher Suzanne Diekman and traditional fourth grade teacher Susan Sepanik. About 140 projects were displayed with at least a dozen judges listening to the reports and reviewing the displays.

At an award ceremony following the day of presentations, the following winners were selected:

Kindergarten: 1. Amelia Bushey, 2. Mila Scheider and 3. Natalie Blenker.
First Grade: 1. Keira Ferrante, 2. Jack Fisher, 3. Ellianah Raynes.
Second Grade: 1. Isaac Muryphry, 2. Cason Tuckaly, 3. Jen Hanssen.
Third Grade: 1. Paul Ferrante, 2. Adele Fisher, 3. Anali Espinoza.
Fourth Grade: 1. Scarlett Hardie, 2. Avery Ramsey, 3. Annabelle Aloel.
Fifth Grade: 1. Aucklynn Sacco, 2. Anthony Rumor, 3. Skylar Webb.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.