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Fascinating science discoveries on grand display

Science Fair01BIG CYPRESS — Fashion and food were fodder for many presentations at the 2013 Ahfachkee School science fair.

From fabric dye made of berries to honey hair lightener, things edible and personal made for recurring components in nearly a third of dozens of projects that lined tables Nov. 14 at the Big Cypress Boys & Girls Club auditorium.

“Both are everyday things students can relate to,” said the school’s science teacher Elizabeth Jack. Each presentation, food-based or not, included an abstract research question, hypothesis, test procedures, experiment results and final conclusions.

The school’s first-place winning project overall, “Healthy Hair,” by ninth-grade students Nashoba Gonzalez and Ignacia Rodriguez, combined beautifying hair with two tasty ingredients.

The girls compared several home-based ways to highlight brown hair: lemon juice; a mixture of olive oil and honey; industrial hydrogen peroxide; and over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide.

Adults who viewed Nashoba and Ignacia’s project were surprised, Jack included. According to Nashoba and Ignacia’s experiment, the olive oil and honey mix is the best way to enhance natural highlights.

“It’s a natural alternative that anyone can do – and we learned about it at a school science fair,” she said.

Other food-friendly projects included: “Egg is an Egg” to determine if brown or white eggs float best; the “Hershey vs. Hershey Challenge” to find which chocolate bar melts fastest; and “Magnet Cereal” to measure the amount of iron in four different cereals by using a magnet to extract pieces from the bag.

More traditional projects also answered important questions: Can the color of a roof absorb more energy; what type of light speeds bacteria growth; do we know what is in the water on Big Cypress Reservation?

Ramona Jimmie said her project was inspired by the beauty of nature. Ramona plucked leaves from several different plant species; then, by soaking the leaves in laundry detergent, she created delicate and ornate leaf skeleton art.

“I didn’t win or place but I didn’t do it to win. I learned,” Ramona said.

Jack said 13 science fair projects were produced by elementary grade students, while 29 projects were turned in by students in middle school and high school. Though fewer projects were produced this year over last, more students combined efforts for group projects.

“This year, the projects were more about quality than quantity,” Jack said.

The school’s first-place winners in each grade are: 12th – Sarah Osceola, Gianna Wargolet and Isaiah Anderson; 11th – Kaitlin Osceola; 10th – Devon Bowers; ninth – Nashoba and Ignacia; eighth – Dasani Cypress; seventh – Les Gopher and Bradin Jim; and sixth – Mikiyela Cypress.

Creators of the top three winning projects overall will compete in the National American Indian Science & Engineering Fair (NAISEF) in spring 2014.

They are: Nashoba and Ignacia; Kaitlin Osceola; Sabre’ Billie and Nena Waggerby; and Dasani Cypress. Seventh and eighth grade overall winners were: Mikiyela Cypress for first place; Charlie Billie for second place; and Thoya Robbins in third place.

Because of increased costs, according to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society that hosts the national event, the annual fair will be staged virtually via the Internet for the first time in the organization’s 36-year history.

Student Jaiven Washington said he is already looking forward to next year’s Ahfachkee science fair. He said his third-grade class presented an experiment that proved how vinegar “rubberizes” hard boiled eggs.

“It was fun. I’m a lot more curious now,” Jaiven said.