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Best, brightest show off skills

South Point school student Sean Hackney discusses his project “Under Siege” to judge Patrick Leighty during the 2015 Lawrence County Science Fair.

South Point school student Sean Hackney discusses his project “Under Siege” to judge Patrick Leighty during the 2015 Lawrence County Science Fair.

PROCTORVILLE — Roller coasters were never really Chesapeake Middle School sixth grader Chase Davis’ thing. Ironically, that’s why he wanted to look at how they work for his science experiment in this year’s annual Lawrence County Science Fair sponsored by the Lawrence County Educational Service Center.

“I did this project because I was scared of roller coasters,” he said. “I figured if I learned about how they worked, I wouldn’t be anymore.”

Davis took foam pipe insulation for the track and marbles for roller coaster. Then he did what all good scientists do. He experimented over and over.

“Depending on the rise, which is the top of the hill, and the run, which is the distance of the loop from the start of the track, is what makes the roller coasters work,” he said. “If the rise was high enough and the run was short enough, it would be able to loop the loop in a successful trial.”

Middle school students from throughout Lawrence County filled the Fairland Middle School gymnasium Thursday morning for the science fair.

“I think from the kid’s perspective, it’s a very important action because it’s not always done in the classroom. It’s more of an extracurricular,” Julie Walters, director of the county educational services, said. “The projects are mostly done at home and the kids have to be self-motivated to get this done.”

This year’s science fair featured 148 projects from all of the Lawrence County school districts except for Symmes Valley.

Autumn New, an eighth grader at Ironton Middle School, did her experiment on how much carbonation her favorite drinks produced.

“I used orange juice, Pepsi, sweet tea and Capri-Sun,” she said. “I figured Pepsi would have the most because it has the most acids in it.”

New took four plastic bottles and poured each drink into them. She then added vinegar to represent stomach acid and set the bottles on a 98-degree heating pad to represent the temperature of the stomach.

“I put balloons on top of each bottle to see which inflated the most,” she said. “The Pepsi inflated the most, so my hypothesis was right.”

Another student tested distances of ping-pong balls launched by a catapult using rubber bands.

“I launched them with different angles using a protractor,” South Point Middle School sixth grader Sean Hackney said “I did each test with one, two and three rubber bands. There were a total of 90 trials. I enjoyed doing this experiment and learning about kinetic energy.”

Hackney’s project took about a week to collect the data.

A total of 50 judges from throughout the area judged the students’ projects.

“I think for a lot of the kids, it’s good for their self-esteem and good for camaraderie,” Ed Kittinger, psychologist at Rock Hill and science fair judge, said. “I enjoy doing this and I’m always positive with them.”

Awards were given out to the winners of the science fair Thursday evening. Students who received superior scores will move on to the district science fair at Shawnee State University in March and students who receive superior scores there will move onto the state science fair at The Ohio State University.