St. Ann School students reap awards at county science fair


By Christina Leslie | Correspondent

Students who competed in the elementary division, from left, Jillian Yao, fifth grade; Liam Johnson, fifth grade; William Black, fifth grade, and Kees William, fourth grade. Courtesy photos

Students in St. Ann School, Lawrenceville, took home accolades from the annual Mercer Science and Engineering Fair held March 22 at Rider University. Open to all students in grades four through 12 in Mercer County schools, the fair has recognized the scientific and engineering achievements of student research and experimentation for more than 50 years.

Participants prepared a research paper and presentation board that are judged by professional scientists and engineers. Nine St. Ann students submitted the projects they had entered into the school’s Feb. 19-22 Science Fair under the direction of science teacher Meredith Daniel, and the Catholic school earned seven awards and honorable mention designations.

In the elementary division, fifth-grade student Liam Johnson took home second place in the category of general science and a third-place ranking for his project on the efficacy of sports helmets in protecting the human head. Johnson later explained, “I used a melon inside different helmets… to see how much [they] protected the melon from breaking. The riding helmet and baseball helmet protected the melon the most.”

An honorable mention went to Kees Williams on a project entitled “To Rinse or Not to Rinse,” and two third-place rankings were earned by Jillian Yao (“Race Your Marbles: The Effects of a Liquid’s Viscosity on Velocity”) and William Black (“Bounce Energy – The Effect of Air Pressure on a Ball’s Bounce.”)

Black, who is a fifth-grade student in St. Ann’s, said, “I wanted to see if air pressure would affect my performance. My project looked at different air pressures in a basketball because I noticed that a deflated basketball was harder to dribble. I found out that the basketball bounced more with more air pressure.”

The junior division saw three winners from St. Ann School: sixth-grade student Alessandra Santoro’s “The Effect of Different Sugars on the Creation of Rock Candy;” an honorable mention for “The Effect of Different Spices on Fungal and Bacteria Growth on Bread” by seventh-grader Samantha Davis, and eighth-grader Sean Geherty’s honorable mention entry entitled “The Effect of Water, Salt and Vinegar on the Oxidation of Steel Wool and the Effect of Coatings on Preventing Oxidation.”

Santoro noted, “I like rock candy and I wanted to try making rock candy using different sugars and sugar substitutes to see how it would affect the shape or formation of the rock candy. I found out that rock candy couldn’t be made using coconut sugar and aspartame, and that granulated sugar and Stevia created the biggest rock candy.” 

“I was surprised to learn that 25 percent of the world’s food supply is lost to food spoilage,” said Samantha Davis. “I tested different spices on bread to see how effective spices are in preserving food, and I found out that ginger, garlic, and cinnamon preserved the bread better than the bread alone.”

Geherty stated, “Rust is an important issue because it costs American businesses billions of dollars every year and can cause dangerous situations involving bridges, ships, buildings and cars. My project not only tests what causes rust, but also what can be done to prevent rust.”

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