May 10, 2012
Four students from Avon, Plankinton headed to international science fair
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
Four area students will travel to Pittsburgh, Pa., thisweekend to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Alyson Roth and Emily Mudder, of Avon High School, entered a joint project, and Justin Krell and Taylor Kinyon, of Plankinton High School, each entered individual projects.
The students took top places at the South Central South Dakota Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Dakota Wesleyan University in March at Mitchell. Each of the students received a $10,000 scholarship to DWU for their success.
The international science fair runs from Sunday to May 18 and is a competition for students in grades nine to 12. More than 1,500 students from 65 countries, regions and territories will attend.
Roth and Mudder have nearly perfected their colorimeter, which uses light to test for nickel contamination in water.
“Our school has a colorimeter to test a solution using a beam of light. You can use different wavelengths,” Mudder said. “We used red light.”
The colorimeter shows how much light is absorbed by contaminates, Roth said.
While doing colorimeter experiments in advanced chemistry this year, Mudder and Roth found the project to be the most interesting. First they tested water solutions to see how clean they could get it, Mudder said, and then figured out which element would best remove nickel.
“Sodium hydroxide does work,” Roth said.
The girls now have ready their colorimeter and pump, which will hold water in the center with incoming and outgoing pipes.
Sodium hydroxide will clean the water, contaminates will filter to the bottom of the tank and the pipes will pump the clean water off the top of the tank.
“We know it’s clean by using the colorimeter to test to see if it’s clean,” Mudder said.
Krell, a freshman at Plankinton High School, created a device that uses a light-emitting diode to sense when motor oil needs to be changed in a vehicle.
He said he wanted to make something that tests the actual life of motor oil rather than relying on computer suggestions.
The device is placed in the oil dipstick hole. The LED shines on a photo cell, which is a resistor that changes with light.
“The more light that gets through, the less resistance there is,” Krell said.
As the oil gets darker from soot buildup, there is more resistance on the photo cell, which eventually sets off the “change oil” light.
Instead of relying on a computer suggestion to change motor oil after so many miles, the light allows drivers to get more life out of the oil, he said.
“If you change (oil) at the right time, you’re saving on fuel economy, because the thicker the motor oil gets with more particulate matter, the harder it gets to push through the engine,” Krell said.
Kinyon, a senior at Plankinton, created a device to prevent distracted driving.
She’s gone through three models to get to her final device. Her first model used air pressure tubes on a steering wheel under a cover. The tubes are hooked to a box that is placed under the steering column and is powered by the vehicle.
The box senses when hands are on the wheel through the amount of pressure on the tubes. Inside the box is a counter, timer and alarm. If there isn’t enough pressure, an alarm will sound after a three-second delay.
Her second model used a low electrical current through metal strips under a steering wheel cover because air pressure was unreliable, she said.
When a driver has both hands on the wheel, it completes a circuit. If only one hand is on the wheel, an alarm will sound after a three-second delay, Kinyon said.
“In my research, I found that on average it takes three seconds from the first initial moment of distraction to the first impact of an accident,” she said.
Her final version uses a tiny motherboard, or stamp, in the box to program the timer, counter and alarm. The stamp will also record all information in an accident, such as time and date.
“Not only is this encouraging you to keep two hands on the steering wheel, but it also could be important in the event of an accident,” she said. “If you could hook up the stamp to a computer, you could see when your hands were off the wheel and for how long.”
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