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Science fair makes the grade

“Metallica vs. Mozart,” “Magnificent Mixing,” “Tuning it Up.”

Just a couple of titles of science projects filling the Citrus County Auditorium on Tuesday at the annual Citrus County Regional Science Fair.

About 250 students showed off projects in 14 categories ranging from microbiology to earth science to electrical to mechanical engineering, with hopes of heading to the 63rd State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida in March in Lakeland.

“We are excited. The level of work seems to be improving each year,” said science teacher Richard Crowley. “We have a young lady over here who engineered her own prosthetic leg for children.”

Around the room, students eagerly waited for three judges to come by and rank their projects. By day’s end, every category had a first-, second- and third-place winner, with the top 10 high school and middle school students heading to the state competition.

“I love seeing all the science projects from all of the schools,” said Bella Bollin, fifth-grader at Central Ridge Elementary. “For my project, I wanted to see the effects of salinity on Rockstar eelgrass.”

Across the room, Crystal River High ninth-grader Ashlyn Hunnicutt’s towering science project compared the effects of music played by the band Metallica with the music of Mozart.

“I’ve been here for the last three years and this was one of my hardest projects,” Hunnicutt said. “I did conclude that blood pressure rises in women when they listen to Metallica while Mozart doesn’t raise the blood pressure, while both types of music increase men’s blood pressure.”

Citrus Springs Middle School student Emily Watts wanted to see how much vitamin C is in a fruit or vegetable after cooking it. “Vitamin C does decrease after cooking,” Watts said. “I hope to help people around the world get the right amount of vitamins.”

For the second year, Faith Kornfield, a sophomore at the Academy of Environmental Science, took an environmental approach to her science project.

“I did a continuation project from mine last year,” Kornfield said. “Instead of using hydrophobic sand for a sandbag, I used hydrophobic sand to try to clear oil spills. Hydrophobic sand is moon sand; it’s water resistant, so I put hydrophobic sand on top of oil to see what it would do and when I dropped the sand on the oil, it sunk the oil. Not only did it sink it but it trapped the oil inside of the sand. You have the oil absorbed into the sand, but none of the water absorbed.”

“If we used this it might be a faster, easier, and an extremely much safer way of cleaning up oil,” Kornfield added.

After community judges completed the tests on the young scientists’ projects, scores were tallied.

The announcement of the qualifiers for various awards will be at 6 p.m. Friday at Curtis Peterson Auditorium, 3810 W. Educational Path, Lecanto.

Contact Chronicle reporter Julie Gorham at 352-563-3236 or jgorham@chronicleonline.com

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