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White Plains Students Research, Run Academic Fair

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Christopher Ryan, a first-grader at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Elementary School , topped off a month of researching the history of police cars by cruising around in an emergency vehicle with White Plains' finest.

"I do like the inside of it because it has a lot of switches and stuff," Ryan said of his decision to study police cars. "I got to drive in the car twice, with the lights on."

While outlining his research at the White Plains elementary school's annual academic fair Tuesday, Ryan detailed the evolution of the modern police car. He noted that Louis Martin Sr. drove the first electric police car, which could travel at up to 16 miles per hour, in 1899. However, motorcycles remained the transportation of choice for officers until the cost of cars diminished.

First, third, fifth and seventh-graders at Our Lady of Sorrows documented the history of Irish dancing, currencies from across the globe, volcanoes, sign language and DNA extraction. The school has asked students to spend a month researching a topic of their choice and prepping to present their work at the annual fair for at least 10 years. But kids get a break from the assignment every other year to help pique their excitement the next year.

Fifth-graders Kyra Broderick and Juia Mancini said their third academic fair project on tie-dye was their favorite.

"We picked tie-dye because we thought it was a cool style," Broderick said. "It dates back to China in B.C. It was a sign of war and rebellion."

After tie-dyeing several materials, researching various dyes, Mancini said the girls learned that "it became a sign of peace and love in the '60s," which led to the creation of tie-dyed pencils, donuts and buttons.

Several projects contained quizzes for those who listened to presentations. Displays, props, and multimedia components were prevalent too, including, a video depicting the sinking of the Titanic narrated by Allison Mickas and Sarah Dorney.

The fifth-graders explained that after 1,503 Titanic passengers died, passenger cruises were required to carry enough rescue boats to transport every person aboard the boat. The two said they became interested in the boat after watching the movie "Titanic" and learned that the 100th anniversary of its demise is in April.

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