Young scientists doing high-level research

January 30, 2003

The third Glenelg High School Science Fair, held Jan. 9, had 204 entries, ranging from a study of a wing in a wind tunnel to the intricacies of cell division and metal fatigue.

"The kids had to do special research to learn about the things they're studying," said Kendall Morton, Glenelg's science instructional leader. "Sometimes, quite frankly, they go over my head."

Display boards were set up in the media center, and the students took turns standing by their projects for two-hour shifts. Fifty to 60 judges were recruited to evaluate the displays; each project received visits from three judges during the two hours, "and the kids would present to them," Morton said.

Staff members from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and WR Grace & Co., advanced placement students from River Hill and Centennial high schools and parents were recruited to serve as judges. Each judge examined about 10 projects.

"It was a big deal and it will be a big deal next year, but well worth it," Morton said. In fact, some young exhibitors have been offered internships at Goddard Space Flight Center and other programs.

Lindsey Dombert, who took first place overall for her project, "Investigation of Vortex Generators Using a Wind Tunnel," has been offered from five to 10 internships for the summer, Morton said.

"And she's only a junior ... which is unheard of. She's also been invited to publish it," Morton said. "One of the judges is going to help her do that."

Lindsey built a wind tunnel out of wood, fiber-glass and plastic, put a wing inside it and studied the effects of various obstructions on the behavior of the wing, Morton said.

Ryan Corces-Zimmerman, who placed second overall for his "Analysis of the Distribution of Insulator Sequence in the Genome of the Drosophilia Melanogaster," worked with a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University to study the DNA of fruit flies.

"I've done stuff like this before," he said. His project for last year's fair tested samples of fresh blood, dried blood, saliva and hair to see which would yield the highest concentration of DNA. The son of biologists, Ryan plans to pursue a career in biology or biomedical engineering.

Chelsea Kapp, who placed third overall, investigated "The Effect of Tetracycline of Stages of Mitosis and Mitotic Index on the Onion Root Tip," treating an onion with the antibiotic to see how it would affect cell division.

Three projects also received honorable mention: "MRI Imaging and Food Safety" by Genevieve Jacobs and Maureen Nicholl; "The Effect of Different Types of Capacitors on the Torque of an Electric Motor in a Multi-phase Circuit" by Cory Perdue; and "The Effect of Metal Thickness and Type on Fatigue Limit" by Sean Vance.

"We had a really hard time deciding on those top three," Morton said. "We've never done honorable mentions before, [but] all three of those projects were very impressive."

Genevieve and Maureen worked with a microbiologist at the Food and Drug Administration laboratory in Rockville, injecting bacteria into eggs and studying the results with magnetic resonance imagery. The girls worked on their project every weekend for six weeks.

"We predicted that the bacteria-injected groups would have less water because the bacteria would utilize that water," Genevieve said. But, although their hypothesis was not borne out, no one was discouraged.

"It wasn't a disappointing project; it was very interesting," Genevieve said. "We took pictures of the inside of the egg, with cross splices and [are] working on 3-D software to look at deformities caused by the bacteria in the yolk."

Sean's hypothesis also was not confirmed. "I figured that the thicker the metal, the higher endurance it would have. But it turned out the thinner the metal, the higher endurance it had," he said. "I figure it's because the thinner metals are more flexible and the thicker metals can support more weight, but that's all they can do - so then they just break."

About 40 students also placed in each of eight categories.

Everyone who entered the competition received a certificate. Those who placed received a ribbon, and those who won overall or received honorable mention won a medal with a picture of Albert Einstein, a rocket and an atom, Morton said.

School orchestra offering strings-only concert

The Glenelg High School Orchestra will present its first strings-only concert, "Just a Strings Thing," at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Glenwood Middle School cafeteria.

Soloists, ensembles and the orchestra will perform.

Tickets, available at the door, are $5.

Information: 410-313-5528.

Military

Returns: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen W. Bloch, a 1993 graduate of Glenelg Country School, recently returned from a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. The ship's home port is Norfolk, Va.

Graduates: Air Force Airman Justin P. Grotte, son of Palmer Grotte of Mount Airy, has graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio.

Births

Phebe James: To Michael and Trudy Frost of Glenwood on Dec. 3.

Nicole Therese: To David and Colleen Bachman of Clarksville on Jan. 8.

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