Scientists Strut Their Stuff

LAKELAND -

Florida will name its top young scientists from the nearly 900 students who participated in the 2008 statewide Science Fair. It's been a challenging three-day event. But for many of the students, their projects have been months, even years in development.

The student science projects are perched on tables lined up in neat rows filling two huge halls at the Lakeland Civic Center. The rules don't allow most of the young scientists to bring their actual experiments.

Winter Haven eighth grade science teacher Kim Rex was in charge of display and safety for this year's state fair. She says judges are looking to learn what the students know.

And what they know is a lot more than the average student. Denise Feradov, a
Lake Brantley High School junior, studied the structural changes in a pancreatic enzyme that she learned about from her mentor professor at the University of Central Florida.

For tenth grader Scott Aaron of Orange Park, money or the lack of it started him experimenting with alternative fuels for his diesel truck. His results - kitchen waste is five times more effective at producing methane gas than manure.

Personal necessity is behind Stephen Huntley's behavioral science experiment titled 'Homework is Less Better.'

'I have ADHD and a speed processing deficit,' says Huntley. 'That is where you have trouble processing information as fast as the normal student so you can't work quite as fast and also oral language disability.'

With the cooperation of his math teacher at Ruckel Middle School in Niceville, Huntley set up an experiment that measured test results from two different algebra classes. One got the normal homework load, the other shortened homework assignments.

His findings - students with the shortened homework scored higher on three tests. Huntley says his findings are in line with professional studies.

But one look around at the science projects in physics, biochemistry and computer science to name a few of 14 categories, some science students have done a lot of extra homework.

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