ERES picks students for regional science fair

Mya Helgason received Honourable Mention for her science experiment about reducing the smell of sports equipment. Photos by Robyn Tocker

Grade 7 and 8 students at Emerald Ridge Elementary School (ERES) participated in the Harvest Field Science Fair with the chance to move on the regional science fair.

“Through the judging contest, five projects will be chosen to move on to the regional science fair, which will be held in Lumsden on Apr. 4,” said Andrew Longstaff, one of two organizers for the local science fair.

“We’re highlighting all the students’ work and we’ll figure out who has done enough to move on to the next step,” he said. “We have everything from basketball to colour blindness to green screens, understanding how memory works – there is lots of variety that the students chose on their own.”

About 90 students worked on science fair projects this year. Some students worked in pairs while others went off on their own. The fair happens every second year at the school. Last year, the students worked on a Heritage Fair project.

Longstaff said it’s important to have the science fair because it promotes lifelong learning.

“The students get to choose what they want to know more about and life is all about that. You choose what you want for your future and you have to know more about it to pursue it,” he said.

Grade 8 student Mya Helgason did her project on how storing spots equipment increases or decreases the smelliness.

“First I had to figure out why sports equipment stinks,” she said. “When your body sweats, thousands of tiny bacteria feast on that sweat. The bacteria then consume and excrete the nutrients.” The thioalcohols released from the excretion are what cause the smell.

Helgason then conducted a variety of experiments to see what was the best way to decrease the smell.

“I went about my normal volleyball practice and when I got home, I cut the socks into equal vertical strips to make sure each piece of the sock was on my ankle so the sweat consistency was the same.”

Helgason used four different methods to test the smelliness of her socks. First, she stuffed the sock into her bag. She also let it air out on top of her bag, sprayed it with Fabreeze. She sprayed the last sock with a homemade essential oils mixture.

She let the socks sit for two days before she collected the socks and swabbed them for bacteria. By looking at the petri dishes, she saw which sock had the least bacteria. Her homemade essential oils mixture was the best at preventing bacteria growth.

“Bacteria love to live in warm, moist and dark places, which is exactly what my bag offered it,” she said.

Helgason hopes her experiment will show athletes that smelliness isn’t a “lost cause” and can be fixed.

Grade 7 students Brady Calvert and Zane Willness wanted to know if plants grew better if liquid other than water was used. They decided to test their hypothesis with a Monster Energy drink, coffee and Club Soda.

Brady Calvert (left) and Zane Willness (right) wanted to know if plants would grow better in a different liquid other than water. Coffee grew the tallest plant.

“We know water is always used, but we wanted to see if there would be something that could be better,” said Willness. “We found out coffee is actually better.”

The students suspected the energy drink wouldn’t grow a better plant due to the high levels of sugar and other ingredients that would harm the plant. They believed Club Soda would do well because of the carbonation. However, it was coffee that came out on top.

“We did quite a bit of research and most experiments said coffee didn’t work, so we were pretty surprised after we saw that,” said Willness.

The students ran into some challenges with this experiment. The bean seeds they originally chose for the experiment rotted. They also tried a milk plant but that rotted as well. They ended up choosing tomato seeds.

“We thought the caffeine would harm the plant, but like how in humans if you have coffee it boosts your energy, we think that’s what happened to the coffee plants,” said Calvert.

After much deliberation from the 11 judges, the students who will move on to the regional science fair are Alyssa Paul, Emma McGill, Marika Van den Berg, Jaxon Jones, Easton Johns and Hannah McLellan. Honourable mentions are Teagan Nyeste, Mya Helgason, Kallum Wagner, Janaya Dorsch and Arianna Dyck.