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Pagosa Springs’ junior scientists compete in science fair

By David Smith
Special to The SUN

Photo courtesy David Smith Liam Doctor takes first place in the Pagosa Springs Middle School Science Fair for his research on “What’s Shakin Bacon?”

Photo courtesy David Smith
Liam Doctor takes first place in the Pagosa Springs Middle School Science Fair for his research on “What’s Shakin Bacon?”

Photo courtesy David Smith Tate Hinger wins second place at the science fair for his “Oily Operation” research project.

Photo courtesy David Smith
Tate Hinger wins second place at the science fair for his “Oily Operation” research project.

More than 30 of Pagosa’s junior scientists recently met at Pagosa Springs Middle School to present their research projects. These projects, which are the product of the Middle School Science Fair elective, start by selecting a topic and a hypothesis. Results of experiments designed to test the hypothesis were analyzed to determine whether they were correct or not.

All research projects were judged by three scientists. With so many excellent projects, the competition for awards was fierce. First place went to Liam Doctor for his research on the possibility that humans may be causing earthquakes. Second place went to Tate Hinger for his research on rescuing birds exposed to oil spills. Tate measured the ability of different soaps and detergents to remove light, medium and heavy crude oil from model bird feathers.

The third-place award was split between two scientists, Kayla Nasaralla and Alex Foster. Kayla showed that salt water can be desalinized using the screen of an old television as a Frenzel lens to concentrate the sun’s energy. Alex showed that higher atmospheric pressure correlates with people being more optimistic.

Several theme awards were also given. Kayla, who also took a third-place award, won “Best Presentation.” The award for the project presenting the greatest scientific challenge went to Keanan Anderson, who built and tested a Tesla Turbine to determine its potential for generating green energy. The award for the project most likely to generate lots of money was given to Briana Williams. Cade Cowan’s study of “Super Plants” that may be used to control soil pH was judged to have the greatest potential benefit for society.

All science fair students are encouraged to present their research at the Regional Science Fair in Durango on Thursday, March 6. Winners in Durango will have the opportunity to present at the state competition in Denver. Pagosa Springs Middle School scientists presenting at the state competition will receive a $50 cash award from the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club.

Many members of our community contributed to the success of this science fair. At the center of the effort are Pagosa Springs Middle School science teachers Tiffany Candelaria and Tom Caffrey. Many parents used the science fair as an opportunity to work with their children. Finally, there are the seven judges who had the difficult task of selecting winners: Nancy Crouse, Mike Leitch, Jean Smith, Tim Taylor, Barry Wheeless, Rita Jensen and Kenda Herman. We wish our students success at the regional, state and, perhaps, national science fairs.

This story was posted on January 30, 2014.