Excited About Science

Views
Which light makes plants grow faster? Two projects at the 2020 Southwest Regional Science Fair on this topic yielded different results. Photo by Stephanie Thompson

The gym was filled with bulletin boards and displays containing important information for each science project tackled.

With more than 70 projects entered in the 2020 Southwest Regional Science Fair, judges were busy moving from table to table interviewing all 89 student participants. This year, students from Pinedale, Kemmerer, Big Piney and Star Valley traveled to Rock Springs for the fair.

From glowing pickles and how certain foods impact your mood, to what light makes a plant grow best and how music can impact a heart rate, there was just about something of interest for anyone who stopped by Western Wyoming Community College Thursday morning.

Advertisement - Story continues below...

Microplastics Discovered in Fontenelle Reservoir

For seventh-grade Big Piney student William Hibbert, the discovery of microplastics in Fontenelle Reservoir surprised him. Hibbert said he came up with the idea to conduct a study on Fontenelle after hearing about all of the microplastics found in ocean water. He wanted to find out if fresh-water sources were experiencing the same issues ocean water was and if so, to what extent.

On November 16 and 23, Hibbert and his family took a boat on Fontenelle Reservoir to collect water samples. Hibbert collected both surface and below surface samples. In all, Hibbert collected 16 samples. He then divided up these samples into smaller samples for a total of 108.

He then wanted to properly examine the samples and knew how to do it.

“You can’t see them with the naked eye, but you can see them with a microscope,” Hibbert said.

Every sample Hibbert looked at through a microscope showed plastic fragments or fibers. He said fragmented plastic appeared long and skinny like a fishing line when looked at under a microscope, while fibers appeared more round and circular.

“I thought I’d find less,” Hibbert said.

The Glowing Pickle

While some projects were serious, others tackled the lighter side of science.

Star Valley seventh-grade student Jase Burton, looked at why pickles glow when electricity is applied.

“Not many people know about this,” he said. “I learned that the pickle with the most sodium will glow the best.”

During his experiments, Burton focused on three brands of pickles, but if he could do it over again, he’d look at more. He determined Vlasic pickles glow the best because they have the highest sodium amounts.

“Experimenting is always the most fun part about science,” Burton said.

Same Experiment: Different Results?

Both Star Valley students Damien Burgess and Shaylah Frazier decided to find out if different colored lights will make plants grow faster.

In Burgess’ experiment he used pole bean seeds. He placed the potted seeds under different lights: green, blue, red, white and natural light. His experiment determined the seeds under the green light grew the fastest, while the white light had the tallest beans. The seeds under the red and blue lights didn’t grow very well, however, the plants under natural light were the healthiest.

In Frazier’s experiment, she used spider plants, which were placed under cellophane covered lights: red, blue and green. The spider plant placed under the blue light was the widest and had the most leaves, the plant under the red light was the tallest, while the plant under the green light barely grew and appeared to be dying.

Frazier said if she could do the project over again, she’d start from seeds and see how the lights impacted them. Frazier was already thinking about how she could incorporate the data she collected from this year into next year’s science project.