Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 | 1:49 p.m.
With experiments comparing blood sugar levels and brain function, many of the projects at the Selma Bartlett Elementary School Science Fair were studies in sophistication.
More than 160 students participated in Thursday's science fair, which impressed Principal Annie Amoia.
"In the past couple of years, students have accessed the Internet for resources, background information and ideas," she said. "The research is meaty."
As parents and college student judges perused the room, students often stood proudly by their displays, detailing their steps, hypotheses and results.
"There's a sense of accomplishment," Amoia said. "They get to act like scientists. They investigate topics they really are interested in."
But they don't always do it alone, teacher Mary Gephart said, as mom and dad often help steer them through the scientific method.
Anae Lewis had a sweet project — literally. Through recording sleep patterns, reactions and glucose levels, she ascertained how the body reacts to simple and complex sugars.
One adult who had been on a diet had to be hospitalized after being fed simple sugars, she noted. Others, Lewis said, experienced stomachaches, diarrhea and trouble falling asleep after being administered doses of candy and soda. Those eating rice slept more peacefully.
"I learned not to eat a lot of sugar before you go to bed," Lewis said.
Lewis noted she had her participants sign waivers. Upon her project's completion, she felt she was better prepared for future projects in higher grades.
"Doing anything like this is pretty exciting," she said. "I'm glad I did it."
Vanessa Catania was enthused about her project as well, especially since it involved one of her hobbies: baking. She made loaves of bread with Splenda, sugar and no sugar to discover which one rose the highest. To her surprise it was the Splenda loaf, on display in front of her poster.
"I didn't think it would interact with the yeast like it did," she said.
She credited the science fair with helping her learn to research.
Julia Carlson's project focused on the brain. She asked 103 people to read a list of words whose colors did not correspond to the letters. She timed their responses in identifying the colors. The fastest group surprised her: those 36 to 45 years old.
"Your brain is taught to read words over colors," Carlson said. "Younger people try to go too fast."
She expressed a sense of accomplishment upon finishing the project.
"I felt I could really show people something they could learn," Carlson said.
Dave Clark can be reached at 990-2677 or email@example.com.