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Monday, July 10, 2006

So I participated in the Science Fair I blogged about previously, and it was quite the hoot!

Austin and I started working on our projects Friday night. Saturday afternoon, we worked feverishly (with a stress on the ish) with our stand-up boards, card stock, sparkle foam, and spray adhesive to get everything lined up with every step of The Scientific Method intact.

I went nuts on additive and subtractive color mixing. I had a connection to old-school TV (RGB drawn by hand, yay!), markers and a pad of paper for all the subtractive mixing bystanders wished to do, plus three active light sticks and a dish of mixed red, green, and blue light sticks in a darkened shoe box. I kind of couldn't let it just sit there; I had to talk to people about it and get all, y'know, me about chemiluminescence.

Austin's was a demo of the McGurk Effect, and it drew lots of curious eyes, because hey, Jesus With Glasses is looking at you and talking. You want to listen, don't you? He set it up and left it; it was fun to watch people showing others what to do.

After a bit, a sweetly blond girl walked in with a box and a composition book. I turned to Austin: "We just lost this contest." Her name was Makayla, and she put white flowers into different colors of water to see what would happen.

There were eventually a total of six contestants: Austin, Makayla, folks experimenting with Leonhardt Lagoon "rain turtles" (there was a significant difference between drawing a turtle and spitting on it compared to spitting on a live turtle in the production of rain within 48 hours), the ToastMaster (these folks hooked up a thermocouple in a toaster and connected it to a web interface that tracked frequency, time, and temperature of toasting; it was amazing), "Kelly and Bryan Are Cool," a project about -- you guessed it -- Coke and Mentos*, and then me.

Judges judged the displays, then we each did presentations. I was summoned to my display when they yelled, "Glowstick Girl! Come up and show us your project!" (Flattering, huh?) I was really into it, of course:

I Heart Glowsticks V

You can't tell in the photo, but I'm wearing green pants, a red tank top, and a blue shirt. Spin me around really fast, and I'm wearing all white!

When results time came, I was pretty pleased to receive Third Place (I was somewhat annoyed when they gave me feedback that included "Have a conclusion and write it down," because, dude, I totally had a conclusion, plus directions for future research)! I was, however, satisfied with my placement despite that little foible, because second place went to the ToastMaster (which was way more technically impressive), and first -- yay! -- went to Makayla.

More pictures in my Flickr photoset.

It was really fun to see and hear people geeking out together. I'll do it again next year for sure.

Makayla gave everyone her experimental trials -- I got the yellow water with flowers in it which had gone a bit pee-colored -- and I gave her my three glow sticks on the condition that she would do an experiment with them. "Put one in the freezer when you get home, and see if it makes it go out our keeps it glowing for longer. What do you predict will happen?"

"It'll make it go out faster, I think."

Good luck next year, kiddo. Glowstick Girl knows you're wrong.

*Find discussion about the Coke and Mentos explosion's actual cause here (via Seed's Daily Zeitgeist).
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