February 25, 2014

Almost 700 students on display at annual science and engineering fair

Students from 10 counties turned out to UT Arlington’s College Park Center to compete against their peers.

Yudilia Antillon dressed her brother in his finest clothes and sent him to the mall to ask people if he could borrow a cellphone — all in the name of science.

Dressed in business attire, her brother was able to convince five mall-goers to let him use their phones. But when he changed out of his slacks and into jeans and a T-shirt, only two out of 20 said yes.

That experiment landed Antillon a spot at the 63rd annual Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair on Monday for her project titled “Wall Street vs. Rock & Roll.”

“Our phones hold so much information about us, so that’s why I chose that because it’s so private, and people are so protective,” said Antillon, an Everman High School sophomore who based her project on the question, “Does fashion impact the behavior around us?”

Antillon, 16, was one of almost 700 middle and high school students who went through an “intense” 90 minutes of judging at the University of Texas at Arlington’s College Park Center. She did not place in the competition.

Six students were selected as “Best in Fair” and will go on an all-expense-paid trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May in Los Angeles. Another 50 were selected to advance to to the Exxon Mobil Texas Science Fair on March 20 in San Antonio.

Students from 10 North Texas counties presented projects in 17 categories, such as animal science and physics, as a part of the oldest ongoing fair in the state, said Dwayne Campbell, chairman of the board.

‘Inefficient’ solar panels

Chris Shen, 17, a junior at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science in Denton, said his project made him reconsider a future career in engineering.

But that was before his second-place finish in his division in the Best in Fair awards, and first place in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.

His project, “Manipulation of Liquid Prism Modules Using the Principles of Electrowetting,” involves using liquid-filled prisms and coils in place of traditional semiconductors, or solar panels. Solar panels are “inefficient” and require too much energy, Shen said.

By using a electrowetting-driven solar tracking system, Shen was able to track, steer and focus light within small spaces and on irregular surfaces.

The hair project

Ben Ward, 13, of Liberty Christian School in Argyle hypothesized that light hair color affects the visibility of static as a part of his project, “Crazy Hair Everywhere.”

Ward used a Van de Graaff generator, an electrostatic generator, and had black, brown, blonde, red, and gray-haired participants touch their hands to the output terminal on the generator to make their hair stand straight up.

Ward found that gray and blonde-haired people did show more static, but not because of the color. He found that fine-textured hair actually causes more static issues. Also, because keratin carries static, and hair color does not affect its ability to do so, his hypothesis proved to be false.

After presenting their projects, students participated in on-campus events sponsored by the UT Arlington Office of University Recruitment, College of Science, College of Engineering, RadioShack and Lockheed Martin.

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