Edwards students stretch bounds of science | VailDaily.com

Edwards students stretch bounds of science

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyEagle County Charter Academy student Madison Wasmer, 13, discusses her project on how music effects one's concentration with judge and parent Leora Coyne, who was very pleased.

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Emma Lathrop set out to uncover the seedy underbelly of prejudice and stereotypes in Eagle County for her science fair project.

Lathrop, an eighth grader at Eagle County Charter Academy, cooked up a prejudice test for 35 people. She lined up a series of photo portraits ” men and women of different ages and ethnicity. These portraits were lined up against a long list of occupations like doctor, lawyer, basketball player, mayor, and model.

Who’s who?

The test answers fell in line with a lot of those hard to shake stereotypes ” out of 35 people taking the test, not a single person believed one of the four women in the lineup was a doctor. Hardly anyone picked a woman to be a lawyer. Most people assumed the dark skinned man wearing a turban was a terrorist, when in fact he was a candy store owner.

The black man in a wheel chair? Not a gang member, as most people thought. He was actually a basketball player in a disabled league. The full figured woman? She was a model ” not a stay at home mom as many people thought.

“The prejudice surprised me a little,” Lathrop said.

It’s no secret that stereotypes and prejudice exist in the community, but science fairs aren’t always about uncovering new scientific breakthroughs ” they’re often just as much about the scientific process and self discovery.

Students re-ask those simple questions already tested by the professionals, put their own little twist on it, spend hours testing their hypothesis and coming to their own conclusions.

Eighth grader Tyler Peterson predicted, with confidence, that people over 40 would have a tough time hearing a sound at 15,000 hertz, while much younger people should be able to pick it up. He knew hearing loss is to be expected as you get older, but he wanted to prove it himself.

Sure enough, he was right. Peterson tested 15 people, and none of the five people over 40 could hear the high pitch noise.

“It’s a pretty annoying sound, but they couldn’t hear it,” he said.

Kristine Perry, with the help of the Avon police, stalked Beaver Creek Road with a radar gun to find out if cars of a certain color typically go faster than other cars.

Turns out, at least in her experiment, people driving red cars were the fastest. With red comes to mind flashiness, and with that she deduced might come a need for speed.

Carter Peel became a rocket scientist. He wanted to find out how much a rocket’s shape affected how high it went. He built four different rockets, each one different than the other. Overall, the best performing rocket was the one he predicted ” the one with a longer, more sleek nose.

“It just seemed more aerodynamic,” Peel said.

Another student discovered that coffee will raise someone’s heart rate more than hot chocolate. Another student, performing a harmless test on his cats, found that cats will drink more water if they’re able to drink from a fountain with moving water.

Aly Pelchat, worried about future ski seasons, tried to find out how much global warming was affecting yearly snowfall in the valley.

With help from the late Frank Doll, a longtime weather watcher in Avon, she analyzed snowfall numbers since 1976, but couldn’t find any definite trends that pointed to global warming.

The amount of snow just went up and down too much every year, she said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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