Meneley students test limits of everyday products |

Meneley students test limits of everyday products

by Scott Neuffer

Students at Meneley Elementary School have become consumer watchdogs by researching the efficacy of various products that otherwise might go unnoticed and untested.

Their findings were presented Nov. 15 as part of the school’s annual science fair. Event organizer Cathy Hackler, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, said there were 200 projects spread across grades 4-6.

“The judges and I have been impressed,” she said. “The quality of the projects has really improved this year.”

Dakota Cannoy, 10, tested the strength of paper bags from three stores in Gardnerville. His experiment included nine bags, three from each store, cooking oil, milk, soda and bricks.

In three separate trials, he loaded standardized bricks into each set of bags and placed them in cooking pans full of the respective liquid for five minutes. With the help of his father, he lifted each bag and observed how long it held together.

Anyone who thinks paper bags are created equal may be surprised by the results.

All three bags soaked in oil remained intact, but a Scolari’s bag broke within 50 seconds after its bottom had been soaked in milk. In the same trial, a bag from Raley’s suffered a small rip.

In the third trial, which used Mountain Dew, the Scolari’s bag ruptured within 45 seconds of being lifted, while the bags from Smith’s and Raley’s were able to withstand the soda.

In fact, Smith’s bags proved the strongest in all three trials.

“Smith’s held through,” Dakota said. “There was not a single rip at all.”

Dakota had a theory why this was.

“The bags were about the same thickness,” he said, “but maybe the Smith’s bag was sealed a little better than the other ones.”

Emma Falquez, 11, decided to figure out which kind of apple browns the quickest. Her motivation behind the experiment was simple enough:

“I eat apples for snacks, and I don’t like eating brown apples,” she said.

Emma halved five types of apple: Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith. She set out each half on her kitchen table and recorded browning trends over an hour and a half. She used a scale of 1-5 to classify her observations, with 1 being the lightest shade of brown and 5 the darkest.

“I think Red Delicious will turn darkest brown first because it’s sweetest and has less acid,” Emma stated in her hypothesis.

But what she discovered in the course of her experiment was fascinating. The Golden Delicious apple retained a rating of 1 throughout the time period. The Gala and Red Delicious varieties fluctuated between 2 and 3, and the Granny Smith reached 4 from the onset.

The quickest to brown was the Fuji apple, which hit a level of 5 by the first interval.

“The Fuji browned really fast, in the first half-hour,” Emma reported. “I did research on the Internet and learned that the cut apples turn brown because oxygen reacts with enzymes and other chemicals in the apples. Adding acid, like lemon juice, is one way to slow the browning reaction. Golden Delicious lasted longest because its chemical reaction was slower than the other apples.”

The results of the project were good news for Emma and her mother.

“My mom loves those (Golden Delicious),” Emma said. “She buys a lot, and it’s good to know they last longer.”

David Cole, 11, wanted to investigate the product he feeds his beloved goldfish.

“I just had the fish for so long, and I hadn’t done anything with them for a while,” he explained.

He separated three goldfish in glass bowls and fed each 1 tablespoon of Tetra Fin flakes. Each serving consisted of red, orange, yellow and green flakes, and David recorded the time it took for each fish to go after the food. His goal was to determine which color drew the most attention.

“I found out the fish went after the red fish flakes more than any other color,” he said.

He reported that one fish attacked the red flakes within five seconds. Another fish, apparently not hungry, took nine minutes until it began feeding, again targeting the red flakes first.

“I also learned that they don’t like being separated in different bowls,” David added.

He said he had a greater motive for the experiment. An avid angler, he wants to expand the testing to game fish.

“I want to try something like this on bigger fish, maybe trout and mackinaw,” he said. “I think I would test different types of worms.”

All first-place projects will be entered in the Western Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Lawlor Events Center in March.

6th grade

1st place Ivy Stiles Is It Pure Water?

Olivia Tahti Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

2nd place Sarah Grove Crystallization

Jake Anderson Energy Drink vs Plants

Kyla Hinnant It’s Mmm Mmm Good

3rd Rachel Trumpower Drying Out Eye Contacts

5th grade

1st place Dario Watroba Experimental Rocks

Tyler Kellar Antibacteria

Ayden Murphy Plant Polluter

2nd place Alli Rose Cold vs Hot Magnets

Sam Whilden Degrees of Deflation

Kimberlee Courtney Burning Paper

3rd place Emily Anderson Hungry Hungry Hamster

Dakota Cannoy Strength of a Paper Bag

Kira Wood Growth of Wheatgrass

Leah Ransey-Cruz To Burn or Not to Burn?

Jarrett Rudd Is It Waterproof?

4th grade

1st place Gavin McMillen Dissection of an Owl Pellet

Zoe Brown Temperature Magnets and Strength

Elise Tahti Apples to Apples

2nd place Zak Korzeniewski Magnetism

Olivia Ross-Dee What Cleans Better?

Vaneza Diaz The Fastest Bean

3rd place Cobee LaMora Plant Growth

Megan Hillyer Alpha vs Numerics

Nicole Jaquish Raising Eggs

1st grade

1st place Mrs. Valiquette’s Class Don’t Eat That!