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Science Fair: North Scott Wins Big!

By: Delaney Fitzgibbon and Rowan Schaffert

Your questions and ideas matter; science fair can help bring them to life.

Lab coats, clipboards, a time machine, and a model volcano about to erupt--when hearing the words science fair, a fantasy is brought to life. In elementary, there are vivid memories of kids showing off each of their projects, one being the infamous volcano. We hold our breath as the chemicals are added and lava soon flows from the top. We were once in awe of this simple chemical reaction, so what happens to this “science fair” that our minds picture when we hear the words? Life becomes busy and volcano projects are no longer needed to achieve good grades in school. With schedules full of activities, we soon forget the simple excitement we once got from a small volcano. But hope is not yet lost; here at the high school, the opportunity to be a part of a science fair is now back, and to learn more, we sought out North Scott’s science fair facilitators: Jennifer Sambdman and Jacob Hunter.


Mrs. Sambdman and Mr. Hunter began by explaining how each project for the science fair is centered around solving an agricultural-related issue. Since the agricultural field is so vast, many things fall under its umbrella. Students chose topics ranging from mental health to ice cream. After picking an issue, students then choose a research question related to said issue. After thorough research, students conduct experiments to answer their questions. Students scramble to record the process and findings of the experiment on a poster board before leaving for the State Science Fair. This year, it fell on April 4th and 5th.


The event is split into two parts: the Agriscience Fair and the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa (SSTFI). The Agriscience Fair is hosted and judged by the FFA organization. Students competing hope to score high enough to compete at the National level at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, IN; however, there are a multitude of prizes to be won besides only that. This was hosted on the 4th. The following day is the judging for the SSTFI. This event is completely separate from FFA. It is hosted by 4-H and an affiliate of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. Students competing in it hope to obtain an invitation to their International Science Fair event which will be held in Los Angeles, CA.


Winners Answer Our Questions

Jordan Jones (sophomore) and Cole Wessel (senior)


Jordan Jones (sophomore) and Cole Wessel (senior), wanted to answer the question: “What stressors contribute to the job stress levels of Dairy Farmers?” To better understand their project and what they learned, we asked them these questions:


How did you get into the science fair? 

Jordan answered first, excited to be back for her second year at the science fair. She explained how her experience began with her own research idea last year. Taking this idea to Mr. Hunter, he suggested this would be a strong idea for a research project for the science fair. Jordan continues to expand her research on that idea this year, now being partnered up with Cole Wessel. This will be Cole’s third year participating in the science fair. His story was a bit different. Cole is heavily involved in FFA where he was encouraged to join and see how it went. Once he was partnered up and began research, there was no going back!


What is your project / What were the challenges? 

Looking at their research question above, Jordan and Cole needed to gather information and statistics on Dairy Farmers and what was causing them stress. Sending out a questionnaire on social media, Jordan and Cole soon learned that science fair research is highly dependent on the research facilities you have access to, how informative your questions can really be, and how far of an audience you can reach. Certain laws prohibited how personal the questions could get, while social media only allowed them to reach so many people; however, as time went by, they gathered the information they needed so the real work could begin. 


What is the end goal?  

Jordan and Cole both agreed that the real end goal is to reduce stressors that have been put on dairy farmers across the nation. Ideas such as developing an app to track those stressors or even providing more mental health services to rural areas. 


Sydney Groene and Addison Harms


Next up is Sydney Groene and Addison Harms who began their project by asking: “Does the level of added sucrose affect the consumer acceptability of a Better-For-You vanilla ice cream?” We then proceeded to ask what their experience was as well.


How did you get into the science fair? 

Sydney explained how science fair was first introduced to her during her freshman year “Intro to Ag” course. The project opportunity caught her interest and she decided to do a project based on one of her favorite things: ice cream. Even since, she has been a loyal science fair participant. Throughout the years, Sydney has had different partners and needed one to accompany her this year. Addison, new to science fair and excited to expand upon her knowledge of stem, was looking for an experienced partner to complete her first project with. Since she already knew Sydney, the partnership only made sense. 


What is your project? 

Both Addison and Sydney expressed a great fondness for ice cream, so why not base their project around it? They knew there was a demand for a healthier ice cream option, but not at the expense of the delicious ice cream taste. They wanted to find out how much sugar you could remove from the ice cream while still meeting customer’s expectations. To do this they made three batches of ice cream: one made with a typical amount of sugar (47% of the daily value), one with 5% of the DV, and one with 0% of the DV. Overall, consumers prefer ice cream made with the typical amount of sugar, scoring it higher in terms of flavor, texture, appearance, color, and melting qualities. 


What is the end goal?  

Considering that lower sugar levels did not meet consumer acceptability, Sydney and Addison want to continue looking for alternative options for sugar-heavy traditional ice cream. They plan to try making ice cream with 15-20% of the recommended sugar DV in hopes that it will be the perfect balance of sweetness and health. 


Both teams performed exceptionally this past week; here are results:



Each of these students put so much time and effort into their projects — projects that answered questions we may not have thought to ask before. To those who participated, congratulations on your hard work and achievements! Here's a list of ALL WINNERS


To those who are new to the hype of science fair, we want to remind you that you can always join next year! Your questions and ideas matter; science fair can help bring them to life.


Please feel free to reach out to Jacob Hunter or Jennifer Sambdman if you have any interest in participating in next year’s science fair :)

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Robert Palmer
Robert Palmer
19 de abr.

Nice pictures. Congrats to everyone!

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