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Students showcase projects at state science fair

HAMDEN — More than a hundred students did their best to impress judges with their experiments and hard work during the 66th annual Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair at Quinnipiac University in Hamden Thursday.

Finalists presented projects starting at 9 a.m. for a chance to win awards. Some students had gadgets and gizmos that moved at their table, others set up props for their experiments, and some took photos that were displayed on poster board.

There were 153 finalists this year. Awards will be given out on Saturday.

Since the state has seen a lot of snow and ice this year, Evan Bender and Michael Dorsey, eighth graders at DePaolo Middle School in Southington, decided to look into the effects of deicers on grass. Evan said he noticed the town was using a different deicer than the state.

“It looked like broken glass on the road,” Evan said.

The town used a potassium inland deicer while the state uses rock salt. They found that both of the deicers killed the grass within a week.

“We want to continue in the future to see what the town and state could use on the roads and sidewalks to be more environmentally friendly,” Michael said.

Mary Bilodeau, a seventh grader at Kennedy Middle School, tested which flour has the most gluten.

“My mom has a gluten intolerance so I wanted to look at different flours,” Mary said.

Carl Williams, a member of the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford, judged some of the special awards. Williams said he and his groups look for students who show an “excellence in astronomy.”

“It’s difficult to judge,” said Williams who had seen numerous projects worthy of an award.

Michelle Wu, a senior a Choate Rosemary Hall in Cheshire, had a posterboard filled with lab work she did at Yale University last summer. She looked into the immune response to implants.

“It’s possible that implants do show a decrease in immune response, which is a good thing,” Wu said.

Lydia Yu’s experiment was called “Pitch not Perfect.” The eighth grader at DePaolo Middle School in Southington tested the effect of temperature on sound frequency using violin strings.

“My orchestra teacher … says our instruments are out of tune during the winter,” said Lydia, explaining where she got the idea.

Hannah Platt, a seventh grader at Kennedy Middle School in Southington, tested horse treats to see if she could decrease the sugar content.

Her friend’s horse suffers from a disease similar to diabetes in humans. She soaked the treats in a chemical solution known as Benedict’s reagent.

“Five out of 15 experiments had a decrease in sugar after soaking them for 30 minutes,” Hannah said.

A bio-inspired robot was created by Carolyn Marchak, a seventh grader at St. Bridget School in Cheshire. It was small enough to fit in the palm of her hand and had the tops of toothbrushes on the bottom and photo cells on top. When the bristles vibrated, the robot moved forward or backward.

Carolyn tested the robot’s movement toward the light and tried it on sunny, cloudy, and partly cloudy days. It was her first time entering a science fair.

“I wanted to try my feel for robotics...” she said. “It was fun.”

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