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  • Austin Humphreys earned first place in the Chemistry category for his project, “The Strength of Voltage Between Material Combinations In Galvanic Cells.”
    Austin Humphreys earned first place in the Chemistry category for his project, “The Strength of Voltage Between Material Combinations In Galvanic Cells.”
  • With her science fair project, Reina Patolia wondered “How does the narrowing of the arteries affect blood-flow rate to the heart?”
    With her science fair project, Reina Patolia wondered “How does the narrowing of the arteries affect blood-flow rate to the heart?”

Chesapeake High Students Tackle Real-World Problems With Science Fair Projects

Zach Sparks
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December 8, 2017

What type of food produces the most energy? Which aquifer has the best-tasting well water in Anne Arundel County? Do you clot?

These are just some of the questions Chesapeake High students sought to answer with their science fair projects, which were on display in the school’s media center in early December.

Every honors biology and honors chemistry student participated, with some of the teens working in groups. Altogether, 200 to 300 entries were submitted in 15 categories. Some students exhibited trifold boards while others used Chromebooks for digital projects.

Austin Humphreys earned first place in the Chemistry category for his project, “The Strength of Voltage Between Material Combinations and Galvanic Cells.”

As Humphreys explained, galvanic cells derive their electrical energy from spontaneous redox reactions obtained by using two dissimilar materials, often metals, which are inserted into a solution.

An aspiring astrophysicist, Humphreys wondered which dissimilar pairs of eight materials (graphite, magnesium, aluminum, iron, copper, zinc, tin and lead) would produce the highest voltage.

Using a voltmeter, he tested combinations of the eight metals, recording an average score after doing three trails for each of the 64 combinations for a total of 192 trials.

Through his testing, he found that the combination of magnesium and graphite created the most dissimilar pair, producing an average of 1.63 volts in a sodium chloride solution.

“I’m in chemistry, no longer in biology, so I was trying to relate what we were learning in class — elements and bonds — to the science fair project,” he said.

Although Humphreys was trying to relate his project to the curriculum, Chesapeake instructor Debora Gaskins said his work was so advanced that it reflected lessons learned by college students.

The earnest Humphreys gave credit to Gaskins and fellow science teachers Jennifer Edwards and Janet Fairbank for their tutelage.

Sophomore Morgan Lehr wanted to determine if chewing gum affects the rate of concentration. She put her peers to the test, asking them to complete subtraction worksheets while chewing gum and while not chewing gum. She found no correlation between chewing gum and concentration.

James Siffrin, a freshman, had a unique topic. “I wanted to see what solution would dissolve a piece of raw steak the fastest,” he explained.

He submerged 9-ounce steaks in water, orange juice, Coca Cola and A&W Root Beer. He found that the sodas were more acidic than water or orange juice. “The root beer dissolved the most,” he said. “When you put meat into a liquid, obviously the meat absorbs some of the liquid, but over a period of time, the steak [in root beer] weighed 1.1 [ounces] and the others weighted 1.4.”

Another freshman, Reina Patolia, asked “How does the narrowing of the arteries affect blood-flow rate to the heart?”

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, so I wanted to do something health related,” she said. “I wanted to investigate what are the benefits of exercise.”

She simulated heart disease by taking four tubes of varying thickness, attaching them to buckets and seeing how long it took for water to circulate through the tubes.

“The wider the arteries, the more the blood will flow through,” she concluded.

As the winner of the Health Science category, Patolia will likely advance to the Anne Arundel County Public Schools 2017-2018 Regional Science & Engineering Expo along with some of the other finalists both from Chesapeake and countywide. Participants will set up March 2, have their entries judged on March 3 and enjoy an awards ceremony March 8.

While nine Chesapeake science teachers oversaw the schoolwide fair, Maria Harris was proud of both her students and the others who used the fair as an opportunity to showcase their critical thinking skills and classroom learning.

“I’m very proud of Reina; she wasn’t afraid to reach out for help and ask questions,” Harris said. After pausing, she added, “They put a lot of effort into these projects.”




Behavioral and Social Science

       1.  Erika Hebb – “How Does Birth Order Affect Grades”

       2.  Emily Sturgill, Hannah Blanch and Amber Brisbane – “Does Gender Impact What Humans Focus On In An Image?”

       Honorable Mention: Ariel Bertalia – “Does A Cellphone Conversation Affect Reaction Time?”



1. Jack Truett – “How Much Fat Is In That?”

Honorable Mention: Derek Diaz and Mark Sutter – “What Drink Has the Most Electrolytes?”



1. Austin Humphreys – “The Strength Of Voltage Between Material Combinations In Galvanic Cells”

2. Kelly Hoang – “Balloon Morphing, How Gases Contract And Expand”

3. “The Glo Up” (luminol chemicals) Savannah Wright and Maddie Hamilton


Earth and Astronomy

       1.  Caroline Pallett – “How Does The Angle Of A Projectile Affect The Size And Shape Of A Crater?”


Energy: Chemical

       1.  Hillary Walker and Allison Shortridge – “What Type Of Food Produces The Most Energy?”


Engineering Mechanics

1. Cody Grubb – “Degradation Of Hardware”

2. Katie Newsome – “What Affects The Sailboat’s Velocity?”

3. Jillian Donaldson – “How Does The Bridge Length Affect The Bridge Strength?”

Honorable Mention: Connor Brennan – “What Is The Best Material For A Toy Boat?”


Environmental Science

       1.  Brendan Chew – “Which Aquifer Has The Best-Tasting Well Water (Based On pH) In Anne Arundel County?”

       2.  Maryia Hrytsysnyna and Jacob Rosenbloom – “Which Biotic Organism Can Help Reduce Water Pollution”

Honorable Mention: Anna Trochimowicz – “Oyster Filtration”

Honorable Mention: Alyssa Adams – “How Do Different Levels Of Soil Erosion Effect The Filtration Of Groundwater?”

Honorable Mention: Sebastian Benz and Alyssa Bees – “Do Filters Affect The pH Of Bay Water?”


Health Science

1. Reina Patolia – “Heart Disease And Blood Flow Rate; Investigating Arteries Of The Cardiovascular System”


Materials Science

       1.  Brennan McAndrews – “Corrosion Of Metals”


Medical Science

       1.  Shelby Bennoit – “Do You Clot?”

       2.  Rachel Shields – “The Smallest Touch, Exploring The Threshold Of Sensitivity”


Plant Science

Honorable Mention: Lexi Myers – The Effects Of Different Maryland Water On Sunflower Growth



       1.  Samantha Harris – “The Effect On Water Depth On Wave Velocity”

Honorable Mention: Nick Mundel – “How Different Tire Pressures Affect How A Bike Performs In A Closed Course”


Systems Software

       1.  Keith Soehnlein – “Password Calculator”

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