Future scientists -- such as Sam Macuga, a seventh-grader at Ecker Hill Middle School -- gathered in the gymnasium at Treasure Mountain Junior High Tuesday, Feb. 25, proudly displaying their projects and waiting for judges to approach them and ask about their experiments.
Macuga said that she would like to become a scientist if she doesn't become a professional athlete, because she loves experimenting with chemical reactions. Her project used titration to see if the amount of calcium in milk is affected by the amount of fat, and she hopes it will get her back to the state fair where she competed last year.
"Titration uses chemicals to find the amount of a substance in another substance, so I used that see if there was a difference between whole milk and skim milk," Macuga said. "I'm really excited to see the judges and see how well I do, because I would like to make it back to the state science fair this year."
Park City High School students Elizabeth Prucka and Maddie Reed also hope to return to the state science fair. They competed last year with an experiment similar to the one they conducted this year.
"This is the 2.0 version, which is greatly improved since last year," Reed said. "Last year, it was just a little bit of simple research and calculations, giving us a base understanding of what we are working with. This year, we performed a lot of higher level tests and university testing."
Their experiment, "Guns, Flames and Steel 2.0: Modern Armor for Modern Warfare," took them all the way to the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz. last year, and they are hoping to make it to the one in Los Angeles, Calif. this year.
"The best thing about nationals was that there are so many different ideas and people with new and exciting projects," Prucka said.
Isabella Canada and Emi Labon, students at Treasure Mountain Junior High, conducted a particularly new and exciting experiment. They said they were surprised to have made it to the district science fair given the "unorthodox" nature of their project.
"We picked the problem of pain, because living in a very athletic town means there are a lot of injuries," Canada said. "We thought that if we could figure out how pain works and how different things affect it, maybe we could come up with a solution to the problem."
Canada and Labon wanted to see if using profanity when in a painful situation will help a person to tolerate the pain. They had to fill out forms that ensured they could use profanity and make sure they were not conducting "human torture."
"We found that profanity does, in fact, help your pain tolerance. While most regular words are stored in your central cortex, profane words are stored in the limbic region, which is also where your emotions and primal instincts like 'fight or flight response' are," Labon said. "So when you use a swear word, you are also triggering an emotion, which helps release endorphins and help you cope with the pain."
Canada said she hopes to become a medical pathologist or a coroner while Labon said she would like to be either a veterinarian or an epidemiologist, someone who studies diseases and helps treat world infections.
Grades 7-12 were judged in the morning, and grades 5-6 were judged in the afternoon.