Spartans succeed at Science Fair

On December 3rd, 2015, North Springs held the annual science fair in the media center. 76 projects were presented, and only ten were chosen to receive 1st place awards and move on to the Fulton County Science Fair.

Students from all grades have been working arduously since August to develop hypotheses, conduct experiments, and write impressive research papers. All of their hard work culminated in the science fair, as they presented their posters, research papers, and data journals to a panel of qualified judges.

Ten projects were awarded first, second, and third place awards. The first place winners who will be moving on to the County level competition on January 22nd and 23rd include: Manshi Baskaran, Amber Liu, Rachel Kaufman, & Nina Qin, Sarah Saltzman & Hima Velega, Natalia Mayo & Aliyah Key, Kevin Santillan & Wren Erling, Charlotte Davis, Jonathan Lu, & David Cohen, Martin Olushola, Alasdair Boney, Zach Schnedierman, and Jessica Mishkoff.

In addition, five projects received special awards. Zach Schnedierman’s project received the Steven C. Fowler Award. Amber Liu, Rachel Kaufman, and Nina Qin’s project received the Einstein Award. Natalia Mayo and Aliyah Key’s project received the Mendel Award. Sarah Saltzman and Hima Velega’s project received the Mendeleev Award. Manshi Baskaran’s project received the FOMAS Award.

First place winner Sarah Saltzman was inspired and motivated by her science fair experience. Working with partner Hima Velega, Saltzman’s project involved testing the effects of food additives on the growth of probiotic bacteria to determine how it affects human health. “My favorite part about science fair was being able to choose a topic in science that I am passionate about and explore it beyond the classroom,” says Saltzman.

Before experimenting, Saltzman and Velega hypothesized that high concentrations of food additives would decrease bacteria growth, while low concentrations of food additives would propagate bacteria growth. In the end, the pair’s results were inconclusive. “Unfortunately, our media was contaminated with fungi,” explains Saltzman, “however if the same pattern of results occurs in further trials, then our data will support the hypothesis.”

Besides winning a first place prize, Saltman and Velega received the Mendeleev Award, which recognizes a project’s creativity and universal application. “The effects of food additives on human health is a pressing issue, especially in the twenty-first century,” Saltzman expounds. “I feel as if our project helps to answer a question that has not been extensively researched.”

Sophomore Manshi Baskaran was another 1st place recipient at the science fair. Her project, titled, “The Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda on Yeast Cell Viability,” involved testing potato starter yeast cells with different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda in comparison to a control group of yeast cells.

Although Baskaran initially hypothesized that the hydrogen peroxide would inhibit yeast cell viability, the results of her data suggested otherwise. “I was able to disprove my hypothesis as the baking soda decreased yeast cell viability much more than the hydrogen peroxide,” says Baskaran.

Though many students might be discouraged by miscalculating their original hypothesis, Baskaran maintains that, “the best part of science fair is when you disprove what you had originally thought. This makes the project more interesting because the general opinion on the topic is actually a misconception.”
Overall, Baskaran had a fantastic experience competing in science fair. She looks forward to competing in the Fulton County Science Fair and believes that the next step for her project would be to, “test the effects of [baking soda and hydrogen peroxide] on bacteria or other microorganisms” because her tests only involved testing on yeast cells.

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