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Jan 19

Students show off their science skills at Lethbridge Regional Science Fair

Students from across southern Alberta put their science skills to the test at the Lethbridge Regional Science Fair and Science Olympics Saturday.

“I always joke that the days of the baking soda volcano are gone,” event chair Arlan Schultz said. “Although I did see a project on volcanoes but it had nothing to do with baking soda, it was tectonic shifts.”

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    Schultz says every year the projects get better and more scientific with grades one to twelve divided into junior and senior divisions. Medals are awarded to participants in each grade.

    “We give away almost $4,000 in awards and scholarships to kids and we also have some donated awards as well,” Schultz said.

    The top three projects from the senior division are also eligible for the national science fair.

    “In the past, per capita we do better than almost any other city in the county,” Schultz explained. “Lethbridge has a tremendous history with the Canada wide science fair and it’s a testament to how good our fair is.”

    Marin Schultz was last year’s silver medal winner nation-wide, where he hopes to compete again this year with his project on the development of the prosthetic auto-grasp control system and advanced human prosthetic interface.

    “Prosthetics usually can only do things like grasp or release and it’s hard for them to do anything extra because for every sensory input you can only have one possible action,” Marin explained. “What I’m doing is increasing the actions that are possible by increasing the autonomy of the system.”

    Kiana Jans was hoping to grab the judges attention with her love of popcorn.

    “My project is about where you should store your popcorn,” Jans said. “My procedure is you put six bags, two in the fridge, two in freezer and two in the cupboard.”

    Jans says her results showed the best place for popcorn was the cupboard.

    “Every little kernel has some moisture in it and if you put it in the fridge or the freezer the moisture lowers, compared to the cupboard,” Jans explained. “When you put it in the microwave, the moisture mixes and creates steam which helps it pop better.”

    If you thought colouring was just for kids, grade five students Sean Hazell and Tyler Munnings from Our Lady of the Assumption School, set out to see if the activity is actually calming, improves memory and how it affects reaction times.

    “From the sample of people we used, it appears that colouring improves short term memory,” Munnings said. “Memory improved by 58 per cent of those tested.”

    The day long event included Science Olympics in the afternoon, breaking the kids into teams to see who could build the fastest elastic powered car.

    “It’s a really exciting way for children to be awarded for their scientific work, we try to make it as positive as possible,” Schultz said.