Apr 03, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
The state of the environment was a hot topic at the twenty-ninth annual Greater Syracuse Scholastic Science Fair, held Sunday, March 30 at Solvay High School.
The GSSSF, sponsored by Briston-Meyers Squibb Company, Lockheed Martin and MOST, hosted students from more than 30 area schools exhibiting science projects and competing for prizes.
A plethora of displays at the fair addressed environmental concerns, from the effects of acid rain to the effect of global warming on snowfall in New York state.
Julia Sanders, a junior at Syracuse Academy of Science, observed the effects of common household cleaners and chemicals on African Violets. Sanders’ exhibit, titled “Pesti-side Effects,” displayed the violets and the chemical that was added to each plant.
Sanders said the most surprising result was the deadly affect a popular insect repellant had on a plant. The plants subject to mold and mildew remover, and anti-bacterial multi-surface spray were also killed.
The plant on which Sanders tested the effects of a ‘natural’, plant-based cleaning solution thrived.
Austin Gamache and Nina Guarjardo, eighth graders at Grant Middle School, recycled a variety of papers to show that recycled paper is practical and usable. They even used some of their recycled paper to create the display board for their project, “Save the Environment by Recycling Paper.”
Shantise Galloway, a freshman at Syracuse Academy of Science, used the science fair as an opportunity to learn more about body mass index, after her interest in the subject was piqued in health class. For her “Percent of Body Fat” project, Galloway conducted a survey and found that less than half of the people she interviewed had a clear understanding of how to calculate body mass index and why it is important.
Along the health-related theme, fifth-grader Michelle Capeling from Bridgeport Elementary School tested various surfaces throughout the building to answer the question, “Is My School Making Me Sick?” Capeling found the surfaces with the most bacteria were those most often shared by many people – the classroom telephone and tissue box, cafeteria chair, computer headset and water fountain.
“I’m not really surprised,” said Capeling. “These are places I think the janitor wouldn’t think to clean.”
Some students developed experiments inspired by pop culture, such as television and bodybuilding.
Ken Brill, a seventh grader at Camillus Middle School, studied the effects of physical and verbal abuse and reinforcement on plants to determine whether plants had emotional response, a study inspired by Charles Darwin and Mythbusters. He named his project, “Plant It.”
Brill was somewhat disappointed he had busted a myth the popular television scientists had deemed ‘plausible.’
“I’m sorry to say,” Brill said. “I’m a big fan.”
H.W. Smith seventh grader Adam Luban studied the effects of two popular pre-mixed protein shakes on pea plants, hoping to see whether the liquids improved the growth of the plants. Luban germinated seeds and studied the effects over 30 days for his experiment.
None of the subject plants survived, however – Luban concluded this might because the thickness of the shake hinders the plants from absorbing nutrients.
Solvay Middle School seventh grader Matt Battaglia built upon basic physics concepts from his science class to test the magnetic affects of different substances, including milk, water, soft drinks, vegetable oil and orange juice.
Battaglia was surprised with the results of his study, finding that orange juice offset the magnetic pull the most of all the liquids.
Competitors were divided into junior and senior levels. Shawn Malloy, a Marcellus High School junior, was awarded $20,000 scholarship to Syracuse University, along with a scholarship to a summer SU high school program and an expenses-paid trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta, Georgia.
Liverpool senior Manpreet Brar also won a trip to the Intel fair. Skaneateles juniors William Polachek and Elizabeth Shoenfelt each won trips to the New York State Science Congress in Albany.