What started as a student and her brother comparing dirty hands, ended up as the top Science Fair project at Conowingo Elementary School this year.
"Me and my brother had a contest to see whose hands were dirtier," said Cheyenne Karashin. Karashin, a third grader, earned top honors at the fair with her project which started with four dirty hands.
She spent a week washing and not washing her hands before handling bread with and without preservatives. Karashin also compared various soaps and hand washing methods, making for a complex and prize winning project. "I learned if you don't wash your hands you will get yourself or others sick," she said.
Alison Marousek, who oversees Gifted and Talented at Conowingo Elementary, coordinated the Science Fair, which was voluntary for students. Marousek offered three before school sessions to help students with their projects. Those who turned out for at least one of the sessions, earned a free fair board project. "The projects just keep getting better. We're talking about projects from students who are eight, nine and 10 years old," said Marousek. "It was very tough choosing first, second and third."
Fourth grader Willow Morgen found out the best water filter isn't used for brewing your morning coffee. Morgen tested a variety of water filters and found out the best one is a pillowcase. She said she was inspired to do her water filtration project because of TV. She said she has seen commercials where children in Africa don't have good drinking water. "I looked at the methods we have for filtering water," she said. "A hand towel is not a good water filter. And a coffee filter came in second," Morgen said.
Another student compared plant growth under various conditions. She said that plants exposed to classical music grew both taller and fuller. With rock music, the plants grew taller, but not as full.
The judges were impressed by the projects.
Laurie Shamblin is an engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground. "I'm impressed. I like to see children interested in Science, more specifically girls," said Shamblin.
Her husband, Richard was also a judge. He's also an engineer. "They put a lot more thought into this than I would have expected. They did things that can be used in the world. Practical things that could be applied in the world," Richard Shamblin said.
Clifford Cook, Ph.D., is a new father. He picked up some very helpful information at the Science Fair. "One of these projects directly applied to me. I'm the father of a newborn. Pampers are the best (diapers) and they backed it up," said Cook.
Heather Welsh, a biologist, also signed on as a judge. "This is awesome. I was so blown away by these projects. These are much more advanced (than when I was a kid). They are doing the work. I want to do this (judging) again. I'm hooked," said Welsh. Jessica Cox works as a Chemist. "Kids are way smarter than when I was a kid. They are using the Scientific Method," Cox said. She also said she learned that pillow cases work better than coffee filters. Cox also laughed and said that third, fourth, and fifth graders have proven what government health studies have been investigating for years.
Kenedi Canteen is a Perryville High School student who judged the fair for a second time.
"They are much more advanced than I was. I won third place in a middle school Science Fair. These are much more advanced," said Canteen.
The winners for the annual Conowingo Elementary Science Fair are as follows:
First - Cheyenne Karashin
Second - Isabel Garvin
Third - Willow Morgen
First - Cheyenne Karashin
Second - Cassie Bach
Third - Olivia Gonzalez
First - Isabel Garvin
Second - Willow Morgen
Third - Brianna Bowman
First - Charlie Bach
Second - Sarah Cantrell
Third - Catherine Costello