Students fare well at regional science fair

After noticing that her 3-year-old brother has difficulty learning, eighth-grader Janna Hoza conducted an experiment to see if exercise would help.

The experiment won the Hayden Middle School student a first-place award at the Alpine Bank Western Colorado Science Fair at Mesa State College in Grand Junction two weekends ago, which in turn qualified her for the state competition, the 49th annual Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, to be held April 8 through 10 at Colorado State University.

Conducting an experiment in which she could use the results from in her own life weighed positively with the judges, Hoza said. She tested five classmates with an online test of memorizing and recalling facial features. For two weeks, the students took the test without exercise. For two weeks, they took the test after running and participating in other physical exercise -- and had improved results. Hoza proved her hypothesis by determining that exercise helped the students' learning.

"Hopefully, I can use this to help my brother," she said.

The experiment won two special awards: the American Psychology Award and the Behavioral Science Award.

Several other Hayden eighth- and ninth-graders participated and placed at the regional competition in Grand Junction.

Ninth-grader Stephanie Pope won a Kodak Award for her photography of color-changing flames from adding chemicals to a fire in a coffee can. Her presentation broke down the chemical reactions of the color changes to the molecular level.

Ninth-graders Brandon Ford and Dave Gullet tied for third in the engineering category for testing the strength of balsa wood structures that they built.

Ford used different bridge engineering styles and added weights to determine which was strongest. Gullet built four towers, two in the shape of the World Trade Center and two in a shape he hypothesized was stronger.

"I was trying to find a better World Trade Center design," Gullet said, describing his staggered-level design. "I thought if one level collapsed, it would just be that one, not all of them."

Gullet's design failed to meet his theory, but learning that is part of the idea behind the science fair, science teacher and middle school science fair sponsor Greg Richards said.

Other notable ninth-grade winners were: Jennifer Epp, second place in botany, and Brian Richards, second place in earth sciences.

Eighth-grade winners were: Ann Yager, third place in earth science, Jacquelyn Denker, third place in physical science, and Jordan Williams, second place in engineering.

Richards won the outstanding teacher and sponsor award and $500, which he said almost made him fall out of his chair.

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