Warwick students shine at science fair

By on March 13, 2019

After more than 50 hours and a lot of math, Trey Watts learned two important lessons.

The first was the critical life lesson to avoid procrastination. The second was a scientific lesson, realizing that slime molds are smart.

His hard work paid off in a Warwick Science Fair Champion title. He and 25 other sophomores had their work on display Wednesday, March 6, the day before the judging, during a Science Fair Community Night in the Warwick High School library.

Warwick 2019 Science Fair Grand Champion Elle Herritt (left) with Science Fair Champion, Trey Watts (middle) and Elise Balmer, (right), reserve champion. Submitted photos. 

Elle Herritt earned the 2019 Grand Champion honors for her project “The Effect of Copper Ion Concentration on the Antimicrobial Activity of Polyvinyl Alcohol Film.”
But the biggest winners may have been Doug Balmer, Diana Griffiths and the other science teachers at Warwick, where the enthusiasm for science was on full display during Community Night.

“For me, I love how science fair allows students to go as in-depth as they want with their project,” Balmer said. “I had one student (Watts) who came in almost every day during his study hall to maintain his slime mold colonies. He cared for them like a pet. He was always coming in telling me about some article he read and how it related to what he was working on.”

Balmer said students can sometimes get bogged down with disappointing results or troublesome procedures, but students often learn the most during the disappointing times. If they are willing to put on their goggles and try again or try something new, he said.

So sometimes the journey is as valuable as the final result, and students at Community Night said they gained a lot of knowledge, even if they don’t win for their entries. Watts, of Lititz, said an AAA study found the average motorist drives more than 17,000 miles a year. The purpose of his project was to use slime molds to create better and more efficient roads so people spend less time driving.

He picked certain cities throughout Pennsylvania. On a map he placed two oats on each city and placed slime mold in the middle and the mold grew out to each of the oats and as it moved forward and took the new paths to find more food. That would leave one single line connecting the oats. While growing his slime molds, Watts visited the lab Monday and Friday for an hour and for for two hours on Wednesday.

Leah Medvedev, of Lititz, won second place in the Earth and Environmental category at the Warwick Science Fair. She did a project on the impact of carbon dioxide on seashells.

“I definitely put a lot of work into this,” he said. “I was not expecting this to be this hands on. Not saying I wanted this project to be easy, but I sort of didn’t expect.”
If he had to do it over, he’d start earlier, Watts said.

“I would have started my first trial sooner, but felt like I wanted to clarify a few things.”

He ran into a problem.

The slime mold was retaining the information from previous trials. It was exposed to other mold and bacteria and knew there was something dangerous. He said his original title for his project was “Smart Slime.”

Nancy and Orlando Solis, of Lititz, hadn’t been to science fair since their children attended Red Lion High School, about 10 years ago. They decided to see what a science fair was like in 2019.
They were impressed with Leah Medvedev’s presentation of her seashell project.

“She does a really great job explaining,” Nancy Solis said. “It definitely helped to understand what’s going with each presentation, because some of them are really intense.”
Medvedev, of Lititz, won second place in the Earth Science category for her Ocean Acidification project.

She wanted to prove when carbon dioxide is added to water and seashells in the water it would cause the seashells to decrease in mass. She was drawn the project because she likes swimming and the ocean. Medvedev made artificial ocean water from six chemicals along with water. She put seashells in the water for a week, stirred and purged in CO2.

Then she filtered and dried them in the oven and weighed them and learned that the CO2 shells lost about two grams of mass.

Ben DuBosq, of Lititz, won third place in the Biomedical and Health division for his project on which fiber inhibitor functions best to prolong the shelf life of glucagon injections when pre-mixed.

“It is important because it is happening in the ocean right now,” she said. “CO2 is dissolving in the atmosphere into the ocean and it is causing the outer layer of the shells to thin, which means less animals have protection from seashells and less protection means more animals are being eaten and eco systems could be endangered or extinct from that. I don’t think that can happen for a few years, but that can lead to it because CO2 is a problem as it increases into the atmosphere.”

Though she only admits finishing her display the morning of Community Night, the project taught her how to do research and showed her another side of the environment.
Sarah Stygler said a love of horses — she started riding when she was age 7 and owned a horse named Nessa &tstr; compelled her to test how the environment and nutrients affect a horse’s hoof.

Stygler, who came in third place in the Animal Plant category, tested more than 20 horses &tstr; often in rainy, muddy conditions &tstr; to determine nutrients can lead to a strong hoof.
Ben DuBosq project idea came from his love for his sister, Carolyn, a type 1 (T1) diabetic. He remembers an ah-ha, moment while sitting in the educational class for his then 8-year-old sister when they learned out-dated solution is problematic in glucagon injections.

The purpose of the experiment, which earned DuBosq third place in the Biomedical & Health category, was to use different fiber inhibitors to prevent the solution from being spoiled and help preserve pre-mixed injections stored at room temperature.

He found the ingredients and made his own recipe for the solution. He also realized the project requires more testing.

Still, DuBosq realized the benefits of his work.

“I’ve already gained,” he said. “I know what I need to do,” he said. “I can take this experiment further. I can add more trials…I think pharmaceutical definitely gain from this.”

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