Students go for cash prizes at first Kinnick science competition
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — With projects titles such as “Can Ankle Weights Make You Jump Higher Than Kobe Bryant?” students launched the first science fair Friday at Nile C. Kinnick High School.
Students in grades 9-12 created 110 projects using the scientific method to answer a question of interest to them.
Science teacher Dave Trajtenberg and physics teacher Scott Andrews pared them down to 35 and invited members of the community to judge the best. The top five share $450 in prize money donated by the Parent Teacher Organization.
“It’s an opportunity for the kids to learn that their hard work can pay off financially,” Trajtenberg said.
About 36 volunteers in teams of three evaluated the top projects based on 40 criteria, including creativity, scientific thought, thoroughness, skill and clarity.
The fair gave students a chance to put the scientific method to use. They came up with a problem and developed a hypothesis and procedure for testing it. Afterward, they observed the results and made a conclusion.
“The most challenging part is coming up with a question,” Trajtenberg said.
Some tested running shoes, Red Bull energy drinks and video games.
Sophomore Chastine Ranada tested her volleyball coach’s assertion about how best to spike a ball.
“I found the bent arm had the most force,” Ranada said. “So she’s right.”
The project helped Ranada apply science to something she likes. “I didn’t think I could apply it to volleyball,” she said.
Mark Javate, a junior, tested household products to find which was best for removing stains. Clarifying shampoo and toothpaste were the winners, something he didn’t expect. His hypothesis said detergent would win.
“The hardest part was figuring out which stains to use,” he said, and then he washed tiny scraps of stained material until his knuckles were raw.
The projects ranged from simple analyses to complex projects worthy of a master’s thesis.
“I think some of them bit off more than they can chew, but with the time restrictions, I think they did a good job,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Jeff Tauzin, a judge and weather forecaster with the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center.
Math teacher Matthew Martinez, also a judge, was impressed by several projects.
“You have kids you can tell really made the extra effort,” he said.