Students to present variety of experiments at regional science fair despite ice storm problems

Monday, March 9, 2009
Matthew Thompson, an eighth-grade student at St. Vincent de Paul, completed his project on the effect of different pH solutions on steel wool.

For Christen Siebert, the time away from school during the ice storm was bittersweet.

While she and her classmates got an unexpected vacation from school, the science fair project she kept there was put on hold by the severe weather.

"We put in all this effort and the ice storm came," said Siebert, a seventh-grade student at St. Vincent de Paul School.

She soaked 40 lima beans in water and monitored their germination for two weeks. Because it got too cold in the school during the storm, the beans stopped growing, she said.

Siebert said she altered her project to account for the stunted growth and hopes the judges will understand the additional challenge.

Christen Siebert, seventh grader at St. Vincent dePaul, completed her science project on the germination of lima beans. The ice storm created problems for her project due to the fact she was unable to water her lima beans when school was out.

"She put in so much work, we hated just to pitch it," said Marilyn Peters, a junior high school science teacher.

Peters said another student had to abandon his project on the effects of different fertilizers on corn growth for the same reason.

About 25 percent of the projects for the Southeast Missouri Regional Science Fair were affected by power outages, said Wilma Huffman, an administrative assistant with the College of Science and Mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University.

"The ice storm has really been a hindrance this year," said Huffman, who helps coordinate the event.

She said some students were granted extensions to restart their projects or choose a different topic.

About 340 students from 18 counties will present 243 projects Tuesday at the Show Me Center. Students in grades seven through 12 will compete in two divisions. Two winners from the senior division will present their projects in Reno, Nev., in May.

Peters' students tackled a number of projects, such as building an artificial knee or observing steel wool erode in acid. The students conducted their experiments in addition to their regular schoolwork, sometimes working before and after school.

Adele Soutar's three cats, Annabelle, Reese and Gregina, were the subjects of an aromatherapy project. She tested the effects of different scents on the cats by scattering scented cotton balls in a room and observing their behavior. Cardamon, a strong menthol-like scent, made the cats more energetic and hungry.

"I didn't like it personally but the cats seemed to," said Soutar, a seventh-grade student.

Eighth-grader Nick Bira tested the effects of different foods on mold and bacteria growth.

"I thought playing with bacteria would be fun," he said describing his petri dish project.

He said yogurt posted the best results killing mold and bacteria.

"It's like the best thing ever," Bira said.

Griffin Patterson built several bridges using dowels, toothpicks, thread, super glue and wood glue. Then he broke them.

Patterson, a seventh-grade student, loaded suspension and cable bridges with weights to see which was sturdier. He said a cable bridge held the most weight, 24 pounds, without breaking.

"We ran out of weights and decided to call it at that," he said.

The Science Fair opens to the public at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday with an awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m.


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