Each year when I volunteer to serve as a judge in a science fair, I am always happy to interact with the many talented young people out there ready to participate in exciting discovery and innovation that science has to offer.

Sarah Harkins at her Science Poster! CT State Science Fair March 15 - 19, 2011.

Students who participate in science fairs increase their understanding of science and problem solving. Completing a science fair project usually involves activities that

  • strengthen critical thinking, reasoning and analytical skills.
  • build mathematical skills for analysis and effective communication of information.
  • develop skills for communicating science and other information to different audiences.

At the fair, students are encouraged to communicate their findings and ideas in a clear, concise and compelling manner to their friends and science fair judges.  COMMUNICATION is a fundamental 21st Century skill required for leadership. Thus participation in science fairs gives our youth opportunities to develop critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills that will help them excel in any discipline.

Preparing and inspiring more students to participate in science fairs is a core mission at WHY SCIENCE.  The reasons why students are motivated to spend time and effort to complete a science fair project can range from fulfilling a class requirement to solving a pressing problem at home or at school.

Sarah Harkins is one of the many students I interacted with earlier today. Sarah was inspired to use science to help her cousin, who suffered from chronic acid indigestion. She decided to research, design and carry-out a project to find answers to this question “When I Change the Type of Antacid, How Many Milliliters of Stomach Acid Will Be Neutralized?” Did Sarah solve a scientific problem and help her cousin get well? Let’s hear what Sarah has to say in her own words:

“Acid indigestion is a common problem in many people. It occurs when there is too much hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Some people may also experience heartburn. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, if people experience these symptoms twice a week, a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD) may be the cause. My experiment was to determine which antacid, Rolaids, Alka-Seltzer, or Tums worked best at neutralizing stomach acid. The problem-question that I focused on was “When I change the type of antacid, how many milliliters of stomach acid will be neutralized?”Using a mortar and pestle I pulverized a recommended dosage of two tablets of each antacid. I added water to form a solution and Universal Indicator to determine a change in pH. I titrated with hydrochloric acid until a color change was noticed. Distilled water was the control. I ran three trials and calculated the average of the trials. The results of the three antacids were compared with the control. Results clearly showed that Alka-Seltzer worked best at neutralizing stomach acid. All three antacids worked better than none at all. However, Alka-Seltzer neutralized an average of 92.7 ml, when compared with Rolaids, which neutralized 5.7 ml, and Tums only 2.3 ml. In conclusion, people suffering from acid indigestion should take an antacid to help relieve their symptoms. Alka-Seltzer would work best according to my results. Further experimentation would include testing other antacids, including the liquid form.”

– Sarah Harkins, 7th Grade Student, East Haven Academy

For more information about the onging Annual Connecticut State Science Fair, please visit http://www.ctsciencefair.org


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