Elementary school hosts science fair

Young scientists at Piñon Hills Elementary School are helping the average consumer.

"White candles can save you money," said sixth-grader Austin Harrison.

Harrison and his partner, sixth-grader Zach Kinder, set up a variety of candles to burn over a certain period of time, then measured how far each one burned down. They found colored candles burned faster than white candles.

"We measured it down to a thousandth of an inch," said Zach. "I think the colored candles burn faster because they're more scented, and have more chemicals that burn."

The project was one of about 200 competing in Piñon Hills Elementary School's science fair on Tuesday. Kindergarten through sixth grade participated in the event.

"It's great for the students to work in the scientific process," said fifth-grade teacher Lyndon Jacobson. "It involves a high level of thinking, organization and planning skills, and also experience with oral presentation."

Sixth-graders Miranda Travis and Amber Taylor found that regular Coke blackens teeth more than Dr. Pepper.

"We put real teeth in different sodas for two weeks," said Miranda.

They displayed the teeth, and though Coke blackened tooth enamel more, they pointed out how teeth soaked in Dr Pepper and Jarritos actually shrunk.

Sixth-graders Chris Barrett and Jesse Urteaga experimented with french fries from McDonald's, Burger King and In & Out Burger. Fries from each restaurant were left out for a month then analyzed. They found french fries from In & Out grew mold faster than those from McDonald's and Burger King.

"We think fries from In & Out molded first because they're made from fresh potatoes," said Chris.

They thought Burger King fries lasted longest because they're made from frozen, pre-cooked potatoes. Burger King and McDonald's cook their fries in the same kind of vegetable oil, but In & Out uses cottonseed oil, said Jessie, which could help explain why the latter is less resistant to mold.

Third-grader Brad Stein found that Total cereal really does pack more iron than its competitors. He crushed up different cereals, mixed them with water, and used magnets to separate iron from grain. Total yielded the most iron, and Corn Pops the least. Cheerios and Fruit Loops were in between.

Second-grader Sebastian Ramirez found another use for milk. Using heat and some mesh filters, he was able to extract protein and casein from milk. From the protein and casein he was able to make glue. He displayed some paper rings he glued together using the formula.

"I got the idea from a book," said Sebastian. "I think it's good for science."

About 20 members of the community donated their time to judge the projects. Twelve projects will be chosen to go onto the regional competition in Reno in March.

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