Practice makes perfect — or at least advances you to the next science fair — if you’re Kylie Cooper. The eighth grader’s science project was the only one from Sulphur Springs Middle School to win first at both the school contest and the Region 8 contest Feb. 12 in Pittsburg, advancing her to the final qualifier for the state science contest in late March.
When a call was put out at Sulphur Springs Middle School for science fair projects, Cooper decided to expand upon the science fair project which saw her finish in the top five slots as a fifth grader.
In fifth grade, Cooper’s project was simply to see if thermotherapy — placing fruit in hot water — would prevent mold from growing on strawberries and extend the preservation process of fruit.
This year, she went a step further with her project “My Fruit Is HOT.” She still tested whether putting fruit in warm water would prevent mold on strawberries, but also conducted trials using blackberries and raspberries. She found that to some degree, it did.
She documented her findings on a project board which she entered in the science fair. Cooper’s project earned first at the campus level and was one of only five from Sulphur Springs Middle School to advance to the Region 8 contest in Pittsburg Feb. 12.
Between the school fair and Feb. 12 fair, Cooper further expanded her project. She’d conducted only one trial on each berry for the school meet, but conducted three trials prior to the Region 8 meet. She redesigned her board with the additional data, including informational charts. She said in the future she’s considering using distilled water which won’t be chemically treated the way tap water is and varying the water temperatures to see if it’s still effective in removal of mold and preservation process.
“They want to see more variables, an explanation, expanded — how different variables affect it. It’s a good experiment and a simple topic which she expanded,” said Allison Irvin, Cooper’s science teacher.
Also advancing to the Region 8 contest as the top finishers at the SSMS science fair were sixth grader Issac Kuriakose and eighth graders Ashley Franklin, Mandy Eckhardt and Jaspyn Johnson. These students were not only evaluated based on their project, board, research and variables, but also were in a room sans teachers with a panel of judges who walked around for a few hours looking at the projects and interviewing students about their projects, according to Irvin.
Cooper was the only student from SSMS to place at the regional meet, scoring top honors among biology projects. That qualified her to enter her project in the East Texas Regional Science Fair in Kilgore, where it’ll be judged against the top biology projects prepared by students from fifth through eighth grade.
“She has to get first in her division at Region March 1 to advance,” explained Irvin. “Only first place advances.”
If Cooper’s biology project is rated first overall in biology, she’d then advance to the Exxon Mobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair being held March 26-29 at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
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