By Ian Adler
As the York County Science Fair approaches, students scramble to construct, decorate, and assemble their science fair boards. February means crunchtime for many students, but before students can enter the county fair, they’re screened through the Red Lion Science Fair.
The Red Lion fair was held on January 29 and 30. The first round of judging took place on the 29, the second round on the 30, followed by an open house and awards ceremony later in the day.
“One of the things that we wanted to do was increase the number of students that get to the York County fair but also increase the quality of the projects that get to the county fair,” chemistry teacher and Science Fair Club adviser Mrs. Valerie Stone said. “If they have to go through our fair first, that hopefully prepares them and gives them a little bit more time to regroup before the county fair.”
The Red Lion Science Fair is in its second year of operation. Last year, 198 boards representing about 200 students were on display, and this year it has decreased to 150 boards with about 160 students, but this statistic is really dependent on student enrollment in certain science courses.
In the Junior Division, Austin Kutcher earned Grand Champion and Rachel Helt earned Reserve Grand Champion. In the Senior Division, John Brownsword earned Grand Champion and Hannah Eisenhart-Seitz earned Reserve Grand Champion.
While the Red Lion fair offers a considerable amount of help to students preparing for the county fair, it is different in a few respects.
“In the Red Lion fair, we only judge the board and the notebook, so we don’t interview the students,” Mrs. Stone said. “At the County Fair, a big part of it is the interview.”
Some students feel that the elimination of the interview helps them out, but Mrs. Stone feels otherwise.
“For our fair, your board and notebook have to really speak for you, so they have to be pretty good quality,” Mrs. Stone said. “That means your board has to really tell your story.”
With participation in the science fair required for the first three years of honors science classes, some students dread the upcoming responsibilities, while others handle it with ease. This year’s projects focused on sports-oriented tests, material studies, and even proving common biology myths, just to name a few.
The duo of juniors Glori Keough and Larissa Herbert are testing Daphnia’s (water fleas) reaction to synthetic Red 40 dye and natural red beet juice.
“We’re seeing if the Red 40 raises the heart rate because it’s known to cause hyperactivity in kids,” Keough said. “For the second part of the project, we’re doing a chromatography of the dyes to see what they look like.”
“A lot of people are worried about what ingredients are going into their food, and the amount of kids with ADHD and hyperactivity have increased a lot over the years,” Keough added. “Some people think it’s linked to red food dye, like Red 40, so we just wanted to see if that’s legit.”
Junior Hailey Kutcher also aims at verifying claims for the sake of children’s safety by testing the flame resistance of baby clothes.
“(My project) will probably tell parents and other consumers whether or not infant sleepwear is actually flame retardant and which types of infant sleepwear they should look at if they’re going out to buy some,” Kutcher said.
Amongst the real-world applications, there are many other benefits that go along with participating in the science fair.
“Well, one thing is you get to put it on your resume which is always a good thing when you’re applying to college,” Stone said. “Beyond that, when you have to do a science fair project, you’re incorporating not only your science skills, but also your creativity.”
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