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LOJ students pocket awards, gain new insight at annual event

LOJ students pocket awards, gain new insight at annual event

SUBMITTED PHOTO: JOE GODFREY - Lake Oswego Junior High students who participated in the Intel Science Fair included (from left) Front Row: Alyssa Seibt, Penelope Spurr, Andre Yang, Lena When and Amy Wang; and back row, McKenzie Grisham, Doris Yang, Jackson Saefke, Tejas Kalyan, Jake Daniels, Nick Surina, Lauren Joyce and Avery Holmes.Lake Oswego Junior High School students participated in the annual Intel Northwest Science Expo in April, and several of them came away with accolades.

LOJ is a regular participant in the annual competition— now in its 33rd year — and all LOJ eighth-graders have the opportunity to have their project considered for the expo. They have their projects reviewed by mentors who volunteer to chat with students about their scientific ideas. Projects are chosen based on meeting requirements, feedback from mentors and students’ ability to attend.

That’s no guarantee that the kids will win lots of awards, but they did — even while competing against hundreds of other entrants.

In addition, many of the LOJ students say they gained a lot just from the experience of conducting an experiment.

Here’s what several eighth-graders say the experience was like for them and what they learned:

n Nick Surina received first place in the engineering category for his aerodynamics-related experiment, “How does the surface area of a vortex generator set affect the stall angle of an airfoil?” Surina got the idea from his hobby.

“I fly remote-control planes and build them as well,” he says.

n Doris Yang took second place in the physics: electromagnetic category for her experiment, “How does changing the length, cross sectional area and temperature of wire affect the resistance of the wire?” Doris proved that it does. It’s not the type of resistance involving pulling, as you might think. Instead, it involves what factors impact how electrons pass through wire.

“The resistance of the wire increased when the length increased,” Doris says.

n Lauren Joyce and Avery Holmes earned third place in physics: mechanical for “How does the kinetic friction of a surface affect the distance a soccer ball rolls?”

“Lauren and I both play soccer, so our experience was very helpful to correlate with,” Avery says.

Lauren says artificial turf’s friction is less than that of natural grass.

“It affects how we play, and (the ball) moves a lot faster on turf,” she says.

n Penelope Spurr landed third place in environmental science for “Does urban life affect sky glow?” Penelope also won the Outstanding Project in an Atmospheric Science Exhibit. To prove her hypothesis, she photographed the sky in different areas — including Lake Oswego and Seattle — at the same time of day and under the same conditions.

“I took pictures of the sky in those locations and used software called ImageJ to make a histogram (a graph) of the data,” she says.

She says urban life definitely can intensify sky glow, with light pollution clearly contributing to an increase in the night sky’s brightness (along with chemical reactions and other factors).

n In the plant sciences category, McKenzie Grisham pocketed an honorable mention for “The effect of magnetic fields on bean plant growth.” McKenzie says magnetic fields do alter how plants grow, sometimes damaging the plant. She says she wishes she could do it again but with a spinning magnet that would provide a more evenly spread electromagnetic field.

n Amy Wang and Alyssa Seibt walked away with an honorable mention in microbiology for “How does the temperature of the initial rising environment affect the height of bread?”

“We learned that there is definitely a temperature that is too hot for bread to rise in,” Alyssa says.

Amy adds that she really appreciates all of the parents and volunteers who helped the students prepare and perform at the science fair.

n Other participants included: Tejas Kalyan, Jackson Saefke, Jake Daniels, Andrea Yang and Lena Wehn.

Jackson and Jake’s project was called “How does the length of a truss bridge affect the amount of mass it can hold?” They proved their hypothesis.

“We thought that the longer we make our bridge, the less mass it can hold, and the shorter, the more mass it can hold,” Jake says.

Jackson says the competition was intense.

“A lot of people built bridges and built computers,” he says.

Lena’s experiment, “The effect of water on bacteria growth,” showed her how water compared from the tap versus area rivers and a local stream. The results from what sprouted from her samples indicated that water from large rivers grow more bacteria, she says.

“I learned a lot about how to conduct a scientific experiment, and that it’s really great to include a control” group, Lena says. She didn’t this time, but she will know to do so next time.

Andrea was surprised by the result of her experiment, “How does the type of root affect the amount of soil erosion?” She’d thought fibrous plants with wide-reaching roots would be able to hold soil better, but it was the tubers with their long, thick roots that did the trick. She also enjoyed the whole science fair experience as a whole.

“You get to learn a lot about people and see what they did with their experiments,” she says.

By Jillian Daley
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