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Schools

A step for young scientists

Thirty-four Pinellas County students won first-place awards in the Pinellas Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Seminole Middle School Feb. 5.

By DONNA WINCHESTER
Published February 16, 2005


SEMINOLE - As complicated as his science fair project may sound to the average person, Bryan Bardin considers it merely the next step in his growth as a young scientist.

Bardin, an 18-year-old senior in the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, got the idea for the project from the scientists he calls his mentors at the molecular genetics lab at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

The project's title?

How Long Will Human Embryonic Kidney Cells Express a Transiently Transfected Gene.

"Basically, I added a gene to three groups of human embryonic kidney cells," Bardin said. "One caused the cells to produce a red fluorescence protein, one produced a green fluorescence protein, and a third produced a luciferase enzyme. I found that, over time, the cells quit producing the protein."

He chose that particular project because the scientists told him it would be a good place to get started on his career as a medical researcher. It won him a first-place award in the biochemistry division at the 2005 Regional Science and Engineering Fair on Feb. 5, which means it will be forwarded to the state science fair in Orlando. It also won one of two Best in Show awards and will be sent to the International Science Fair in Phoenix in May.

Bardin, whose interest in science originated with his grandfather, was introduced to biology as a sophomore, the year he started working in the lab with the USF scientists. Since then, he has worked his way up from cleaning beakers and animal cages - "stuff the post doctoral student don't want to do" - to making solutions.

"Much of what I've learned in the classroom I've seen the professors doing," he said. "I had been reading about the experiments, but we didn't have the capacity to perform them in school. Seeing them in the lab fascinated me."

This year's science fair, a Pinellas County tradition, was held at Seminole Middle School. For years, the fair had been held at Pinellas ParkSide mall. The district had to find a new location after the mall was razed last fall.

Not all of this year's projects were as complex as Bardin's, but most were equally interesting. Allison Doerner, a sixth-grader at Madeira Beach Middle School, entered her project in the junior biology division. She was one of six students at her school whose work was judged good enough to go to the regional fair.

Allison, 11, hypothesized that plants in soil moistened with hot water would grow faster than plants that received cold or room-temperature water. The higher temperature would cause the root hairs to dilate, making it easier for the plants to take in nourishment.

She divided 30 petunia plants into three groups and used different temperatures of water on each group. After several trials, she found plants that received hot water grew up to one-half inch taller than plants watered with cold or room-temperature water.

Bridget Siegel, a seventh-grader at Bay Point Middle School, explored a subject close to home. Her mother, Ellen, was diagnosed with Hepatitis C a number of years ago. Doctors have her condition under control, but Bridget has become interested in the subject of organ transplants.

For her project, Bridget, 13, tested the ability of different substances - cotton, acetate, paper, nylon and polyester - to act as filters. She proved that nylon would work best, and came away with ideas for further experiments that she thinks could have implications for transplant research.

Youngsters often become interested in science as middle school students, said Tempest Booth, a science teacher at Southside Fundamental Middle School. The trick is keeping them interested. Their involvement in science fair projects can be the glue that makes them stick, she said.

One of her students, Jason DeBose, entered a project in this year's secondary biochemistry division. Now a junior in the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, DeBose is interested in biomedical engineering. The 17-year-old was thrilled when a judge from St. Petersburg College expressed interest in his experiment, which tested bacteria against bacteria.

While science fair projects can fuel young people's interest in science and lay the foundation for future careers, they also teach FCAT skills, said Leslie Pohley, a science teacher at Largo Middle School.

Besides challenging students in reading and mathematics, projects can give students an edge when it comes to the science FCAT. That edge could come in handy in the 2006-07 school year when the state begins factoring science FCAT scores into a school's overall grade, Pohley said.

"The science fair teaches kids about the nature of science, ethics, repeating your data and doing your own work," she said. "What they learn from the science fair covers an entire strand for FCAT."

Students whose work appeared in the regional show were honored Feb. 10 at a reception at Osceola Middle School. Those who won first-, second- or third-place awards received engraved plaques. Those who earned fourth place received ribbons.

WINNERS

BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE: Erin Cambier,* St. Paul's School, Mozart, Music, Mazes and Mice: The Influence of Music on Learning and Memory; Allyson Freedy,* St. Paul's School, The Effect of Birth Order on a Person's Personality Type; Thomas Bunbury,+

* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, Can Simulated Robotic Behaviors Elicit Responses From Anolis sagrei?

BIOCHEMISTRY: Bryan Bardin,+

* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, How Long Will Human Embryonic Kidney Cells Express a Transiently Transfected Gene?; Shelby Begany, Southside Fundamental Middle School, The Effect of the Length of Time Chicken Bones Are Deprived of Calcium on the Bone's Ability to Regain Bone Density

BOTANY: Jessica Cadmus,* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Super Triphosphate on Plant Growth and Water Quality; Amanda Zbella,* Saint Cecelia Interparochial School, The Effect of Reproductive Hormones on the Growth of Bean Plants

CHEMISTRY: Quinn Lundquist, Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Mixing Flame Retardants on the Flammability of Paper; Cristina Meehan, Canterbury School of Florida, What are the Effects of Natural Components on the Rusting of Nails?

COMPUTER SCIENCE: Mike Duvall, Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Various Solutions on the Storage-Retrival of Data on CD-ROM Disk; Forrest Feld, Pinellas County Jewish Day School, Invasion of the Network Snatchers

EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE: Joseph Sabadish, Wellington School, The Effect of Wind on Evaporation

ENGINEERING: Adam Cutting,+

* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Cavitation on the Drag of a Torpedo; Jonathan Friedman,* Bay Point Middle School, An Inexpensive Servo Winch Controller for Model Sailboats

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE: Jarred Carter,* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, Can Plants Remove Heavy Metals From Contaminated Soil?; Adam Kraus,+

* St. Paul's School, The Effect of Nitrogen-based Fertilizer on the Regeneration Rate of Planarian; Ashleigh Stewart,+

* Saint Cecelia Interparochial School, Florida Freshwater Springs: Aquatic Jewels

MATHEMATICS: Krista Pontzer, St. Paul's School, The Effect of Government Party on the Stock Market

MEDICINE AND HEALTH: Mackenzie Lee,* Southside Fundamental Middle School, The Effect of Antibacterial on Suture Tensile Strength; Kinjal Patel,* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Surgical Soap and Dial Antibacterial Soap on Staphyloccoccus epidermidis

MICROBIOLOGY: Matthew Murphy,* St. Paul's School, Mouthy Microbes; Thierry Phouthavong,* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Whitening Strips on Streptococcus Salivarius; Julia Teytelbaum,* St. Paul's School, The Effect of Disinfection Methods on the Bacteria Growth on a Sponge

PHYSICS: Heather Mooren, Bay Point Middle School, The Power Locked in Nuts; Stephen Ruck, Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Surface Texture on the Flight Pattern of a Ball

ZOOLOGY: Christina Cardy,* St. Paul's School, Chaotic Crabs: The Effect of Low, Midday and High Tides on the Behavior of Red-Jointed Fiddler Crabs (Uca minax) During Mating Season; Ryan Drof, Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, The Effect of Microwave Radiation of the Growth of Fruit Flies

TEAM PROJECTS: Rachel Martinez,* Minh Nguyen* and Justin Storey,* Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, Does the Number of Fish in a Tank Affect the Gender Ratio?; Kyria Gianos and Lizabeth Martinez, Largo Middle School, The Effects of Temperature on the Voltage Power of a Solar Cell; Jessica Urban and Brianne Yunker, Largo Middle School, What is the Effect of Colored Light on Chlorella Algae?

Best of Fair

* Students who will proceed to the state science fair in April

In addition to the first-place winners who will go to the state science fair, six students who earned second place and one student who earned third place also will go.

Andrew Nerney, Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, second place behavioral science, The Effect of Negative Conditioning on Fruit Flies; Consentina James, Meadowlawn Middle School, second place botany, Oxygen Produced by Water Plants; Allison Sakiotis, Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School, third place botany, The Effect of Scarification of Hard Seed Coats on Germination and Plant Growth; Sawyer Zent, Southside Fundamental Middle School, second place engineering, Houses: Surviving Hurricanes: What is the Effect of the Angle of Roof Fin on the Time It Takes to Be Blown Off; Samuel Given, Southside Fundamental Middle School, second place physics, A Sticky Situation; Daniel Hill, St. Paul's School, second place physics, The Effect of Various Rocket Model Recovery Systems on the Landing Distance for Launch Pad; Thomas Henry, St. Paul Catholic School, second place zoology, Can Caffeine Affect the Growth of Mealworms?

Times photo - LARA CERRI

Students, parents and judges spent much of the day looking at exhibits at the Pinellas Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Seminole Middle School on Feb 5.

Projects at the 2005 Regional Science and Engineering Fair show how subjects grow from students' experiences.

Times Staff Writer

[Last modified February 16, 2005, 04:30:09]


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