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Betty Rodriquez, an eighth grader at Donald Morrill Math & Science Elementary School, poses in front of her science project with State Representative Toni Berrios during a science fair that was held at Brookfield Zoo on February 25. Barrios served as one of the judges.

Chicago Public Schools Students Participate in Chicago Zoological Society Science Fair at Brookfield Zoo

It's nice to know that the future of science is in "solid" hands. Students in grades 5th through 12th from six Chicago Public Schools (CPS) participated in the second annual Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) science fair held February 25 at Brookfield Zoo. The event included 27 science projects -- including "Think Red," "Which Candle Burns Faster?" and "From Solid to Liquid" -- that were judged by Congressman Dan Lipinski, State Representative Toni Berrios, WBBM-TV news anchor Jim Williams, student mentors, and Chicago Zoological Society staff.

The winners included:

  • First Place - Joseph Komperda, a seventh grader from Nathan Hale Elementary School located in the Clearing neighborhood, for his project "Think Red." Joseph diluted contaminated water with pure water to test how much pure water is needed to purify the contaminated water.
  • Second Place - Nicole Sheedy, a sixth grader from Nathan Hale Elementary School, for her project "Which Candle Burns Faster?" Nicole tested the burn rate of candles based on their color.
  • Third Place - Alma Gonzalez, a sixth grader from Robert L. Grimes Elementary School located in the Clearing neighborhood, for her project "Solid to Liquid." Alma froze soda, orange juice, and coffee for one day, then removed the liquids from the freezer and tested which would unfreeze the fastest.
  • Fourth Place - Ahmed Shuaibi, an eighth grader from John C. Dore Elementary School located in the Clearing neighborhood, for his project "In Which Liquid Would Alka-Seltzer Have the Quickest Chemical Reaction." Ahmed tested water, milk, orange juice, and Pepsi to see which would dissolve Alka-Seltzer the quickest.
The first-place winner received a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo’s Swamp exhibit. The second- and third-place winners received a one-year family membership to Brookfield Zoo, and the fourth-place winner received a Brookfield Zoo sweatshirt.

 Winners of a science fair held at Brookfield Zoo on February 25. Pictured left to right are: first-place winner Joseph Komperda, a seventh grader at Nathan Hale Elementary School; second-place winner Nicole Sheedy, a sixth grader at Nathan Hale Elementary School; third-place winner Alma Gonzalez, a sixth grader at Robert L. Grimes Elementary School; and fourth-place winner Ahmed Shuaibi, a seventh grader at John C. Dore Elementary School.

Students participating in the event were from six of the eight partner schools of CZS’s groundbreaking Levels of Engagement program. The program offers CPS teachers training in helping students use creativity and judgment to create science fair projects outside of the normal demonstrations.

In the spring, the program will evolve to offer student peer-to-peer mentoring by pairing juniors from Charles Allen Prosser Career Academy, located in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood on the north side of Chicago, with younger middle school students. The students will work one-on-one throughout the spring and summer to develop science fair projects in preparation for next year’s school and area science fairs.

"The Chicago Zoological Society’s Levels of Engagement program is a collaborative effort with CPS to engage and empower students to develop meaningful science fair projects,” said Jennifer Gibson, Chicago Zoological Society school program coordinator.


Latrice Tucker, an eighth grader at Donald Morrill Math & Science Elementary School, discusses her science project with Congressman Dan Lipinski, who was one of the judges at a science fair held at Brookfield Zoo on February 25.

Chicago Public Schools currently participating in the Levels of Engagement program include Clearing neighborhood schools John C. Dore Elementary School, Robert L. Grimes Elementary School, Alexander Fleming School, and Nathan Hale Elementary School; Donald Morrill Math & Science Elementary School in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood; Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood; Irma C. Ruiz Elementary School in the Pilsen neighborhood; and Charles Allen Prosser Career Academy.