More than 30 students spent extra time at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School on March 7, but they didn't seem to mind.

In fact, they were having a blast.

The students were participants in the annual Brain Blast, a creativity fair sponsored by the Grandview K-3 PTO that was held that evening in the middle school commons.

During the annual event, students in grades K-5 are invited to create displays that highlight their science experiments, research projects, hobbies or collections -- anything they're passionate about.

"It's a science fair of sorts," said PTO member Mona Barber, who served as this year's Brain Blast chairwoman.

"The students get to explore whatever subject they want, out of the classroom and without the expectations of the classroom," she said.

"What's impressive to me is the range of topics they cover," Barber said. "And in each one, they are doing research and gathering information about their subject. I think it helps encourage them to look up and find information about the things that interest them."

In many cases, Brain Blast becomes a family tradition, Barber said.

"I've noticed that a lot of kids see their older siblings participate in Brain Blast and it makes them want to do it to," she said.

Twin sisters and fourth-graders Maura and Maggie Yates titled their display, "Your Plate Without Bees."

"Your plate would be a lot emptier," Maura said. "Thirty-five percent of the food we eat probably wouldn't exist if they weren't pollinated by bees."

"Just about anything that grows on plants or with seeds needs bees," Maggie said.

Take the ever-popular hamburger, she said.

"Your burger would be pretty sad if there were no bees," Maggie said. "Most of the stuff you put on a hamburger -- the lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, onions -- are pollinated by bees.

"Most people think bees are just pests that want to sting them," she said. "We want people to understand how much we need bees."

The bee population has been decreasing in recent years, Maura said.

"It's not a good thing," she said.

After the research she and her sister conducted, Maura said she believes the pesticides used by farmers are responsible for killing bees.

Second-grader Blake Beaver was demonstrating a lava-lamp experiment in which she placed an Alka-Seltzer tablet into a glass container filled with water, food coloring and vegetable oil.

"The Alka-Seltzer mixes with the water and that turns into carbon dioxide," she said. "The carbon dioxide rises to the top as bubbles because the oil is heavier than the water."

With the food coloring, the effect is like an unplugged lava lamp, Blake said.

As the bubbles pop, the blobs of colored water fall back to the bottom of the container, she said.

"The first time I tried the experiment, I expected the bubbles to be a lot bigger," Blake said. "That's what I like about doing experiments: You don't know what's going to happen, so it's fun to find out."

Science is one of her favorite subjects in school, she said.

"I also like art, and science is kind of like an art because you're creating experiments," Blake said.

Fifth-grader Aidan Duckworth also experimented for his Brain Blast display, mixing Borax with hot water.

"I saw a YouTube video about it and wanted to try it out myself," he said. "What's really cool is that the Borax mixes with the water and it creates a substance that's like crystal, but it's not really crystal.

"It feels just like crystal and it looks really cool," Aidan said.

For his "recipe," Aidan suggested using three tablespoons of Borax.

Science is fun because there's no limit to it, he said.

"Anything you're interested in, there's some science involved with it," Aidan said, "so there's so many things you can do in science."

He loves science, but he doesn't expect to make it a career.

"It's just a hobby to me," Aidan said.

Tatum Lusher's display was about a topic that hits home for her: the struggles and achievements of women in sports.

"For a long time, so many women were denied the opportunity to play sports," she said. "Luckily, that's changed. My grandmother couldn't play basketball, but thanks to Title IX, my mom was able to get a D-1 scholarship and play basketball at the University of Akron."

Title IX became law in 1972 and mandated that women could not be kept from participating in sports or any other educational program or activity that receives federal funding.

"That's why my mom could play sports when previous generations like my grandmother's couldn't," Tatum said. "Now I can play just about any sport I want."

Tatum's mother is Jamie Lusher, Grandview Heights Schools' chief academic officer. Tatum said she wants to emulate her mother and earn a basketball scholarship.

"She's my hero and role model, but another one is Billie Jean King," she said.

King was one of the top women's tennis players in the 1960s and 1970s, and she caused a stir by choosing to wear shorts instead of skirts, Tatum said.

"At one of the tournaments, she was taken out of the picture of all the men and women players because she wasn't wearing a skirt," she said. "But women suffered by wearing skirts because they were more likely to fall and get hurt. Skirts aren't really made for playing tennis.

"Even though Billie Jean King didn't play my sport, she's still a big inspiration to me," Tatum said. "I'm so appreciative of people like her who blazed the trail for my generation."

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