Young Cathedral scientists present projects

Published 12:01 am Thursday, February 28, 2008

NATCHEZ — Wednesday kicked off the first day of the fifth- and sixth-grade science fair at Cathedral School.

The projects ranged from the truly odd to the truly amazing.

One project studied the speed at which milk will spoil; another studied the hydrating properties of water versus a popular sports drink.

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Yet another project provided an in depth study of electro magnetism.

Science teacher Amanda Coley said the science fair is a great way for students to grasp the everyday fun of science.

“The more fun they have with it the more they learn,” she said.

For Coley learning is the main objective of the science fair.

Coley said the scientific process by which the students conduct their experiment, is especially beneficial to their mental growth.

“It helps with their concrete thinking skills,” she said.

And by the looks of the projects there was no shortage of concrete thought that went into the creations.

Buddy Livingston, 10, got the idea for his science fair project from reading a magazine article on radiation’s use as a food preservative.

“I radiated these potatoes,” he said looking over a series of potatoes that had been treated with radiation.

Coley stressed the potatoes were not radioactive.

Livingston’s mother, who works in cancer treatment, helped him use a local hospital’s radiation machine to blast the potatoes with zero to 20,000 rad.

Rad is a unit of measure used to describe absorbed radiation.

While all of Livingston’s potatoes were 120 days old, the higher the rad level the better they looked.

Zero rad equated to several green sprouts on the spud, the potatoes with 20,000 rad looked fairly fresh.

While the potatoes were no longer edible Livingston’s preservation method was successful.

Kayla Cauthen, an 11-year-old self-proclaimed science buff, built an elaborate model that demonstrated the hydrological cycle.

“It was supposed to rain inside,” she said pointing to the roof of the Plexiglas box.

Instead she got fog.

Cauthen’s box was rigged with a fan to heat and cool the mini ecosystem.

Even though Cauthen could not reproduce rain, her project did have a tangible signs of success.

Short sprouts of grass had begun to sprout from the mud-lined floor of the box.

“It’s definitely growing,” she said.