MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 13, 2013

Regional science fair under way

Chief judge: High school entrants down significantly this year

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Globs of apple juice dried on a paper towel at Kalynn Marshall’s science fair booth about liquid spherification.

“You can use this to make fun toppings for frozen yogurt or other foods,” the Porter High School junior said, explaining that spherification is a process of turning liquid into a gel to boost flavor.

Kalynn’s booth was among a couple of dozen high school booths at the Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which ends today at Muskogee Civic Center. Winners of this week’s fair will advance to the State Science Fair in March. The Best in Fair senior entry will get an expense-paid trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this may in Phoenix.

“It’s disappointing to see only 24 high school student exhibits entered,” said Connors State College biology professor Dr. Stuart Woods, the fair’s chief judge. He said this year’s science fair attracted about 190 entries.

“In years past, we had 300 or 400,” Woods said.

One reason for the smaller turnout is that it is running two weeks earlier than previous fairs, said director Jim Wilson. He said the Regional Fair, normally held  the first week in March, had to move earlier because the State Science Fair is earlier this year.

Competition with other activities may be another reason, he said.

“There are a lot of other events going on,” Wilson said. “We have students involved in History Day. The Mathematics and Engineering Design Competition was last week.”

Kalynn said this was her first year to have an entry in the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. She showed spherification’s effects on apple juice and chocolate milk.

“The chocolate milk doesn’t look like it’s supposed to because it sat in my teacher’s refrigerator for too long,” she said, showing how the milk curdled in a cup. Meanwhile, the apple juice came out in neater globs.

“When it’s smaller, it’s called caviar. When it’s bigger, it’s called ravioli or an egg,” Kalynn said.

The fair drew 166 entries in the junior division, Wilson said.

Hilldale Middle School eighth-grader Kel Cox attempted to show whether a Tesla coil could be used as an alternative energy source. The display featured a transmitter box and a copper coil spiraling toward a tube topped with a light bulb wrapped in foil.

“We use a transmitter to send a charge through the spark gap,” he said.

Exhibitors must show their display and explain their hypotheses, procedures and conclusion to judges. Wilson said the fair attracted at least 100 judges from the community.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

Donation

A man known only as the Pirate has donated a $10,000 check for the Muskogee Regional Science and Engineering Fair, being held this week at Muskogee Civic Center.

Fair Director Jim Wilson said fair officials received the check in the mail this week. The check came from the law office of Wright, Stout and Wilburn.

Wilson read from the letter: “Our office has been directed to deliver to you the enclosed check in the amount of $10,000 to be used for the charitable purposes of the Muskogee Regional Science and Engineering Fair.”

Wilson said the check will enable fair officials to send the senior Best in Fair winner and the winner’s teacher to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this May in Phoenix.