Balcom, 12, has a knack for science

Student achiever

September 18, 2002

The pupil: Sam Balcom, 12

School: Burleigh Manor Middle

Achievement: Sam won an honorable mention at the Howard County Mathematics, Science and Technology Fair in the spring. He and science partner Ravi Vaswani went on to win several awards at the Baltimore Science Fair, including first place for biological science and an honorable mention for "Use of Teamwork in a Science Fair." Their project was titled "The Effect of Hot and Cold Foods on Oral Body Temperature in Adults." The project is a semifinalist in the national Discovery Channel Young Scientists Challenge; of 1,751 entries, 40 finalists will be announced this month.

How they conducted the experiment: Adult family members and teachers served as subjects. After finding a base temperature, Sam and Ravi asked the subjects to eat ice cream and drink hot cocoa. "For cold food, it took five to 10 minutes to go back to the initial temperature. For hot food, it took 10 to 15 minutes," Sam said.

What he learned from the competition: "Part of it was learning how to interact with judges," Sam said. "We also learned how to present really well to the judges."

What made them such good partners?: Sam and Ravi have worked together on other school projects. "A lot of our interests are the same, and one of them is science. Being good friends really helps working well," Sam said. He and Ravi plan to expand the experiment for next year's competition, possibly adding seniors or children as subjects.

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