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TMCNet:  Weber science fair teaches varied skills through research, interaction

[February 13, 2013]

Weber science fair teaches varied skills through research, interaction

OGDEN, Feb 13, 2013 (Standard-Examiner - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Kinley Krebs and Hannah Killpack assumed male mice would have a better sense of direction, what with providing for their mates and pups.

But the results of the girls' science fair project proved otherwise.

"The two boy mice started faster, but the two girl mice got faster later, and they were the fastest," said Hannah, 14, who attends Harrisville's Orion Junior High School with her friend.

"We also learned that females are independent, and the males don't take care of them at all," said Kinley, 14.

Ten Weber County schools participated in the senior science fair Tuesday at Weber State University. About 190 students, in ninth through 12th grades, did 154 research projects and displayed their information, techniques and findings on trifold poster boards.

On Monday, Weber State hosted the school district's junior science fair, with 360 projects and 500 sixth- through eighth-graders from 26 Weber School District schools.

"Besides the science, they learn presentation skills and social skills," said Kathleen Nye, Weber School District curriculum supervisor. "The ones who work with partners learn collaboration. A lot of the students will earn scholarships or paid trips to specialty fairs. And the projects get them thinking about science. The wave of the future is science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM fields. That's where the careers are." Nye said students benefited from strong support from their parents and teachers. Among the competition judges were uniformed personnel from Hill Air Force Base.

"The students were so honored to have heroes in uniform talking to them about their projects," Nye said.

Sam Good, 14, from Eden's Snowcrest Junior High, did research on the speed of computer computations, past and present. Sam learned about "Moore's Law," the observation by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles about every two years.

Sam wondered if the speed of computation also doubles or does better every two years, and tested the speed of computers from 2002, 2005 and 2009 to solve 10 million math problems. Sam found the time needed decreased by half or more every couple of years, and projected that by 2050, the million math calculations will take a new computer 27.7 milliseconds.

"I definitely learned a lot about computers," Sam said. "A smart phone today has more computing power than the computer system used for the (1969) lunar mission. It's kind of sad that we use our phones to watch videos of cats jumping in boxes." Other student scientists at the senior fair concluded from research that: --People make flavor assumptions based on the color of cupcake frosting.

--Slightly more people like cake made with applesauce than with oil, but few think the two recipes taste the same.

--After listening to verbal audio recordings, nonmusician listeners retain more of the information than do listeners who are musicians.

--Coca-Cola does not dissolve meat left submerged for five days.

--Larger wheels increase the downhill speed of a long board.

--Listerine kills more bacteria than do Crest or Scope mouthwashes.

--A teaspoon of poppy seeds consumed in a muffin will give a false positive on a drug test for opiates.

--Boys and girls presented with pink- or blue-frosted cupcakes don't make gender-based color selections.

--And students score much better on surprise quizzes if they get plenty of warning about the upcoming exams.

Dainger Adams, 16 and from Ogden's Bonneville High School, found that garlic makes a better cricket repellent than does a commercial insect repellent containing Deet.

He caged his crickets with four wooden posts, then counted the crickets that perched on the untreated post, versus the posts with soybean oil, commercial repellent and garlic oil.

"I couldn't get mosquitoes because they spread the West Nile virus," Dainger said. "My flies all died. So I got about 50 crickets at a pet store.

"I learned that in science, a lot of things will fail, and you have to go with it and learn what will work." ___ (c)2013 the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) Visit the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) at www.standard.net Distributed by MCT Information Services

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