Church Hill students shine at school's annual science fair

Jeff Bobo • Mar 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

CHURCH HILL — Indoor lawn grass subjected only to the rays of a blue light bulb will grow faster than grass grown under a green, red or the traditional white light bulb.

Someday that scientific discovery may be put to practical use. Perhaps growing hay in outer space.

In the meantime, it has earned seventh-grader Emily Armstrong the third-place prize in Church Hill Middle School’s annual science fair.

More than 700 CHMS students participated in the science fair this year, which was judged Monday in the school gymnasium by two Johnson City high school teachers and two professors from East Tennessee State University.

Students applied the “Scientific Method” to a wide variety of subjects this year including agriculture, forensic science, meteorology, highway safety, photography, health issues, conservation, and even the best way to slice an onion without causing tears.

That was the subject of seventh-grader Brittany Mills’ second-place winning experiment. Mills sliced onions in every conceivable style and angle and deduced that the only way to avoid tears is to wear goggles.

Based on this year’s entries, sixth-grade teacher Amanda Junot, who helped organize the fair, said CHMS has some budding young scientists.

“They’ve done some excellent, creative ideas — things that I’ve never even thought of,” Junot said.

Kody Tipton was the winner in the eighth-grade category with a “Ladybug Robot” that uses antenna that tell it to change direction when it hits an obstacle. Tipton was home sick Tuesday and unable to explain his experiment to the Times-News personally.

“This is very high tech,” Junot said of Tipton’s winning project. “He did an excellent job. He’s a very intelligent kid. I see a future scientist in him.”

Each grade had a first-, second- and third-place winner, as well as honorable mentions.

Earning second place in the eighth grade was Bree Cassidy with an experiment in “Bloodstain Pattern Analysis.” Natalie Arnold placed third with her project titled “On Your Mark, Get Set, Text.”

Arnold’s project involved testing people’s driving ability while using a cell phone. In the study, real cars were replaced by a Nintendo Wii driving video game with wireless steering wheel.

“I got 30 different people to test it — just plain driving, driving while talking, and driving while texting,” Arnold said. “It definitely does (affect driving), especially while texting. About everybody (wrecked). Talking isn’t near as bad as texting.”

Eighth-grade honorable mentions included Whitney Barker, Sarah Tuscano, Jessica Parker and Cody Parker.

Seventh-grader Ethan Roberts won first place in his grade for “Egg Head: Measuring Endothermic Reactions in Eggs.” Mills was second in the seventh grade, followed by Armstrong in third. Honorable mentions included Miranda Ferguson, Stephanie Marshall, Casey Price, Hope Adkins, Cierra Pearcy and Kayla Dykes.

Michalia Marshall was the sixth-grade winner for “Corrosion of Nails,” followed by Justin Light in second with “Burn Baby Burn” and Allison Parker in third with “Watts Up.” Sixth-grade honorable mentions included Shyanna McGinnis, Katie McCann, Meghan Salyer and Matthew Fields.

Sixth-grade teacher Robin Walker said she was impressed with Salyer’s project, in which she made it rain in her kitchen using ice cubes and a frying pan.

“Her board is outstanding,” Walker said. “Everything is the way it’s supposed to be. She showed the scientific method and everything. I told her it looked like a storm in her kitchen when she printed the picture. It’s really neat.”

Participation in the science fair is mandatory for every CHMS student. They have about two and a half months to complete their projects, and during that time they report their progress to their teachers.

Sixth-grader Nick Bradshaw found out that science isn’t always pretty. He used sliced potatoes to determine which doorknobs in his house carry the most germs.

Bradshaw simply rubbed a sliced potato on a doorknob and watched potatoes change color. The more germs on a doorknob, the more moldy the potato.

“He found out that his 18-year-old sister’s (had the most germs) because she’s always going out and in a lot,” Junot said. “He said she doesn’t wash her hands enough.”

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