Emily Marshall and Alana Waters aren’t necessarily big fans of spiders, but the two seventh graders at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School didn’t let that stand in the way of science.
“We wanted to learn more about them,” Alana said.
On Tuesday, the girls were among about 30 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades who participated in the school’s science fair.
“They can pick anything they want to experiment on,” said Lynne Towers, a teacher at the school.
Once the topic is approved in November, the students begin their work, finishing up their experiments in December and preparing their presentations for the January science fair.
Spider Silk, the topic chosen by Emily and Alana, tested the strength of orb webs, the symmetrical webs often found outside, against house spider webs, the matted mass with no distinguishable shape found in basements. What they found was that the house spider webs could support more weight than the orb webs.
“The orb webs are made with saliva,” Emily said.
The girls also pointed out that the reason spiders don’t get caught in their own webs is because not every part of it is sticky.
“They know where the sticky parts are,” said Alana.
While their experiment tackled a topic they were interested in, eighth graders Nathan Swift and Corey Mendonca chose a topic to dispute their parents’ claims that playing video games would dull their senses.
“Both of our parents said (playing video games) would slow down our reactive functions. We decided to put it to a test,” said Nathan.
The two tested subjects who were timed to place various shaped objects in the corresponding place on a gameboard. Then the subjects were asked to play a round of Call of Duty, Black Ops 2. The subjects would be timed again, as they attempted to match the objects to the shape.
“Those who were familiar with the video game scored better,” Nathan said.
The boys were happy to tell their parents that playing their video games would sharpen their reaction, and they had the data to back it up.
Other projects, such as Isabella Curran’s study of pollution in Bristol found that high traffic areas, such as Hope Street, revealed more airborne pollutants than in places like Colt State Park.
“I think it comes from buildings and cars that pass by every day,” Isabella said.
In all, nearly 20 experiments on topics such as bacteria to baked goods were on display. Representatives from the Newport Undersea Warfare College judged the projects, with awards going to the ones they deemed the best.
The top three projects will be presented at the Rhode Island State Science Fair held in March.
And the winners are:
First Place; Bacteria
Olivia Federico & Grace Fitzgerald
Second Place; McDonald’s vs. Subway
Chloe Watson & Grace Rosado
Third Place: Bottled vs. Tap Water
Mitchell Higgins & Damon Castigliego
First Place; Spider Silk
Emily Marshall & Alana Waters
Second Place; Fat in Ground Beef
Third Place; Sonar
Luke Orwiler & Jacob Donahue
First Place; Regular vs. Convection Oven
Alyssa Almeida & Megan Medeiros
Second Place; Video games and Reaction Times
Nathan Swift & Corey Mendonca
Third Place; Popcorn
Rachel Pacheco & Hannah Stanzione
Best in Show; Sonar
Luke Orwiler & Jacob Donahue