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Young Pagosa scientists hold conference at middle school

By David Smith
Special to The SUN

Photo courtesy David Smith Tate Hinger, Best of Show winner at the recent Science Fair at Pagosa Springs Middle School, describes his research on student cheating to science fair judge and engineer Barry Wheeless. Local middle school scientists are now fine-tuning their research and projects in preparation for the regional fair in Durango.

Photo courtesy David Smith
Tate Hinger, Best of Show winner at the recent Science Fair at Pagosa Springs Middle School, describes his research on student cheating to science fair judge and engineer Barry Wheeless. Local middle school scientists are now fine-tuning their research and projects in preparation for the regional fair in Durango.

A group of Pagosa’s younger scientists met in the middle school library last week to present research they conducted for their Science Fair elective during the past 10 weeks.

Most of the research projects started as the scientists’ own ideas, which were followed by background research on the Internet, procedure development, and acquiring and analyzing data.

Of course, no research is complete until the results are presented to other scientists and subjected to peer review.

The research ideas span a wide range of scientific disciplines, including physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, social behavior and psychology.

Can fish wastes be used to make fertilizer?

Which metals rust most easily?

Could the school electricity bill be reduced by students riding bicycles connected to car alternators?

How could the power of a hurricane be harnessed to make electricity?

Why does the shape of the moon change?

How to make an electric motor from some wire, a magnet and a battery?

What is the Hall effect in physics?

Building an electronic circuit to warn drivers that a bridge is out.

Today’s research in some of these areas will affect the way we live in the future.

Several of the scientists received awards, which may be the first step to future Nobel Prizes.

The Best of Show award went to Tate Hinger for his work on “Cheater Cheater.” Hinger’s research focused on whether cheating in junior high school is reduced more by the presence of a teacher or another student speaking against cheating. His results show that students are more effective than teachers. Although his present results relate to seventh grade, he has plans to expand his studies to other schools.

Keanan Anderson’s demonstration of a Stirling engine operating with helium tied for first place for seventh-grade projects. Anderson’s research explored the possible benefits of using helium to improve the efficiency of the Stirling engine.

The second place award for seventh-grade projects went to Liam Doctor’s project, “Gliders Galore.” The effect of different paint, as well as wing design, on flight distance and time were investigated.

Seventh-grade third place awards went for research on the physiological effects of Monster Drinks (McKia McPherson) and the relationship between craters and meteorites (Kayla Nasralla).

Three awards were given to eighth-grade scientists.

Delaney Khung won first place for her research into how heat can be produced by decomposting food scraps. Her research demonstrates that water can be heated by this method. Future designs of the bioreactor will include an odor reduction feature.

The eighth- grade second place award went to Shaylynn Lee for her research on marketing, which showed that display is more important than price when we buy things for friends.

Lorrain Valencia received the eighth-grade third place award for demonstrating that higher temperature improves the growth of plant roots.

These Pagosa scientists will continue to refine their studies for presentation at the San Juan Basin Regional Science Fair in Durango on March 7.

Projects selected for presentation at the State Science Fair in Denver will receive a $50 award from the Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs. This research was driven by the genius of young minds guided by teachers LeeAnn Skoglund, Tiffany Candelaria and Tom Caffrey, and by volunteer scientists from the Archuleta County Education Center. Al Bouchier, Barry Wheeless and Gwen Taylor were the judges.

This story was posted on January 31, 2013.