Thursday, 13 April 2017 08:00

Southeast Alberta regional science fair offers hands-on experimentation

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William Hobart, who attends Brooks Junior High School, created a project, with his partner Kyle Breakell (not pictured or in attendance), looking at how to create an edible water bottle. He competed in the regional science fair held in Medicine Hat April 8. William Hobart, who attends Brooks Junior High School, created a project, with his partner Kyle Breakell (not pictured or in attendance), looking at how to create an edible water bottle. He competed in the regional science fair held in Medicine Hat April 8. Photo by Rose Sanchez

A small contingent of students represented Prairie Rose School Division and Grasslands Regional Schools at the 2017 Kiwanis Southeast Alberta Regional Science Fair April 8.


Jordan Kurtzweg, a Grade 8 student from Foremost, brought his project about biodiesel to the regional science fair.
“Being that there are issues with renewable energy, it is not always efficient to use wind power,” he explained. “We need some other alternatives that are better for the environment, but still reasonable for farmers to use.”
His project’s goal was to determine which kinds of oil would make the most biodiesel. In the end he showed the same amount of biodiesel is produced no matter what kind of oil is originally used. Kurtzweg added he was surprised by that result.
He was glad to be able to take part in the regional science fair.
“I think it’s a great learning opportunity and a chance to see the other projects.”
Representing Senator Gershaw School in Bow Island, were brother and sister Ayden Rooks and Victoria Rooks with their own separate projects.
Ayden wanted to see if he could generate electricity using mud and test various kinds of mud. He looked at garden mud, potting soil and mud from his dugout. He believes alternatives to wind and solar power are necessary and likes the fact mud could generate electricity all the time as it isn’t dependent upon weather conditions.
Through his experiments, he found that dugout mud generated the most electricity and that’s thanks to the microbes that are present. Potting soil he found to be too sterile.
“You can use soil, but dugout mud works the best because it has the most microbes in it,” he explained.
Ayden took part in the science fair last year with a wind power project.He appreciated he could return again this year, adding he likes learning new things.
Victoria Rook’s project focused on testing sunscreens with varying degrees of SPF. She placed the sunscreen on beads, which she then left in the sun outside. She found the highest SPF sunscreen worked the best for protection, and isn’t as easily absorbed by skin because it is thicker.
She was excited to take part in her first regional science fair, especially since her favourite subjects in school include science, math and art, which her project combined some of each.
Grasslands Regional Schools was also represented at the regional science fair with entries from Brooks Junior High School.
Jace Baumgartner and Belall Hachi partnered to work on a project to see which fuel burns most efficiently and how it ignites. They tested gasoline, biofuel and two-stroke gasoline.
They competed in their school’s science fair and earned second place for their work. They both agreed it was a fun project to work on and were looking forward to explaining it to judges as they were participating in their first regional science fair.
They ended up taking home an environmental science award in the grades 7/8 category at the regional fair.
William Hobart had to do the heavy lifting on behalf of himself and his partner Kyle Breakell, who couldn’t attend.
Their project looked at whether they could create an edible water bottle, in light of the billions of plastic water bottles that are thrown away in landfills every year, and never break down.
They used sodium almate and calcium lactate to create a membranes that could hold water and pop.
These two substances are more natural products.
“We found that edible water bottles can be used in certain situations,” said Hobart, although he questions their actual palatability. He said in the name of science he tried to eat one of their creations, but only got about half of it down.
“I taste-tested a couple, but I almost threw up,” he adds.
The membrane, while it didn’t taste very good, would at least break down more easily than a traditional plastic water bottle.
Hobart was also awarded for his efforts on April 8 with an environmental science award in the grades 9/10 category.
Brayden Livingstone and Hunter Houck focused their project on whether mice running through a maze would do so more quickly with classical music playing or rock music. Their testing showed the mice ran the maze better with rock music playing, likely because it got the mice “pumped up.”
Classical music is more soothing, and likely better suited to other activities such as studying, adds Livingstone.
They earned third at their school’s science fair for their work and were at the regional science fair for the first time. Both agreed their project was a fun one to complete.
The regional science fair took place at the Medicine Hat College with judging of the entries in the morning.
A science showcase kept students occupied once their projects had been judged and prior to the event being opened for public viewing in the afternoon. The day was capped off with the awards ceremony.
The other big winner from outside of Medicine Hat at the regional science fair was Pakeeza Mushtaq, from Brooks Junior High School.
Mushtaq’s project looking at the development of a low-cost and effective water filtration system earned the physical science award in grades 9/10 as well as the DRDC Suffield Research Centre Science Fair award for grades 9/10.
Mushtaq will also be one of three students (the other two are from Medicine Hat High School) who will represent the region at the Canada Wide Science Fair inRegina, May 14-20.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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