Intro: What kinds of projects win awards at an academic science fair? Paul Janensch gives us two examples in this Treasure Coast Essay.
One budding scientist wondered how a loop-the-loop roller coaster works. Another wanted to study the movement of destructive weevils in an orange grove. Each of them was a winner in the 2014 Indian River Regional Science & Engineering Fair, put on recently by the Education Foundation of Indian River County at Gifford Middle School. Tessa Johnson, a fifth grader at Beachland Elementary, was awarded a best-in-show in the Elementary Division for her project. She built a miniature roller coaster on which a marble rolls down an incline and into a loop. She found that the angle of the incline had to be at least 32 degrees for the marble to make it around the loop. Evan MacKay, a junior at Vero Beach High School, won a best-in-show in the Secondary Division. He marked weevils with different colors, placed them on orange trees, revisited the trees and found that male weevils moved toward females, but female weevils did not necessarily move toward males. Evan speculated that the female weevil’s pheromone, or chemical released to attract a mate, may be stronger that the male weevil’s. The idea of the science fair is to instill in the students a love of science. For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.
Outro: Treasure Coast essayist Paul Janensch was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.