New Haven Science Fair Featured in NH Register

New Haven students find inspiration for science projects in current events (video)
 
Thursday, May 12, 2011

 
By Abbe Smith, Register Staff
asmith@nhregister.com
 
Courtesy of www.nhregister.com

NEW HAVEN — Tsunamis, oil spills and renewable energy.
 

Many topics at this week’s New Haven Science Fair reflected big current events stories that grabbed the world’s attention over the past year.
 

Out of last year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico came several projects looking at the environmental impacts of oil and at renewable sources of energy. In response to the deadly tsunami in Japan in March that killed thousands and triggered a nuclear crisis, some projects looked at how tsunamis form.
 

“It’s so exciting because as science supervisor, I want them to connect what they learn with the real world,” said Richard Therrien, who oversees all science curriculums for the district.
 
There were 260 projects on display Wednesday at Yale University Commons, with students standing by to answer questions about their experiments. The projects were judged Wednesday and winners will be announced today.
 

“The great thing about this year is that more and more schools are participating,” Therrien said.
 

All of the district’s K-8 schools and seven high schools submitted projects this year.
 

The projects range from highly intellectual pursuits of greener combustion technology to practical experiments that test which paper towel or cleaning detergent is more effective.
 

Wilbur Cross High School sophomore Andrew Suzuki built a device called an HHO gas generator, which uses electricity to convert water into a gas that can then be added to gasoline to increase fuel efficiency in cars.
 

“The world is in need of cleaner energy and more renewable resources,” he said.
 

Eric Davies and Elan Silver of Edgewood Magnet School conducted an experiment to see what angle of blade makes for the most efficient wind turbine.
 

“It could make the environment cleaner,” Eric said.
 

Some projects posed unusual, even quirky questions. Take Wilbur Cross sophomore Esther Rose-Wilen, who asked: What would the dimensions of Mary Poppins’ umbrella have needed to be for her to actually use it as a parachute? Rose-Wilen, a theater enthusiast, took on the experiment as a way to see if science could improve the way special effects are done.
 

“When I was little, I thought Mary Poppins actually used an umbrella as a parachute,” she said.
 

So she built model umbrellas, dropped them out of a window and calculated their acceleration and velocity. Despite interesting findings in her calculations, the project warns people not to try actually using an umbrella as a parachute.
 

Wilbur Cross sophomores Alessandra Hogan and Tarpley Hitt conducted an experiment testing different denominations of money for “dirtiness.” The pair swabbed 10 bills of denominations ranging from $1 to $100, inoculated Petri dishes and waited to see how much bacteria would grow.
 

“We are trying to see if there was a correlation between the amount of bacteria and the size of the bill,” Hogan said.
 

According to the results of their experiment, there is. The students found that small denominations, $1 and $5 bills, had the most bacteria, while $100 bills had the least.