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Fun with science: Area students participate in science fair

Rex Barber • Apr 16, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Kaylee Jordan, a fifth-grader at Hal Henard Elementary School in Greeneville, wanted to see how different drinks corroded teeth, but instead of testing this idea on something like eggshells, she used her own teeth.

“I thought it would be better just to use my own teeth, because it would be a cool experience,” Jordan said.

Jordan was one of about 250 students from across Northeast Tennessee who participated in the annual Upper East Tennessee Science Fair at East Tennessee State University Monday.

The event typically features exhibits from fourth- through eighth-grade students from more than 40 schools in the region.

Professional scientists from ETSU and various local companies judged the competition, which was divided into biological and physical science categories.

According to ETSU, $6,000 in prize money was awarded to student winners, their teachers and their schools. These funds were donated by the Kiwanis Club and Eastman Chemical Co. In addition, the Tennessee Academy of Science awarded four $100 prizes, ETSU’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Services awarded two $100 prizes, and the American Chemical Society awarded three prizes totaling $150.

Aside from prizes, Jordan thought research was important.

“But I think research is cool, because you can just learn more things,” Jordan said.

Micah DeBruin, a fifth-grader at Boones Creek Middle School, decided to test various parachutes to see which one took longest to reach the ground.

He constructed four parachutes and measured the flight time of each one.

“And I thought that the larger one would hit the ground slowest, because it has more air resistance, and my hypothesis was correct,” DeBruin said.

He said research was fun.

Joanna Smith, a fifth-grader at Lamar Elementary School, also researched teeth, but how different drinks stained them as opposed to what corroded them. She used eggs to see how tea, coffee and Coke stained. Her results showed tea stained eggs the most and Coke stained eggs the least. Coffee was somewhere in the middle.

“It helps you learn and you have more education in your project and you know more about your subject,” Smith said of research. “It’s very fun.”

Gary Henson, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at ETSU and president of the Upper East Tennessee Science Fair, said student projects included the best kinds of bits to use for horses to determining the amount of fat contained in French fries.

“What we hope is we’re building sort of a bug in kids’ minds that they can do science and that science is fun,” Henson said. “Having a competition like this, I think, helps them see there’s rewards for doing science.”

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