Local students recognized for science excellence

Alex Sanchez noticed how his mother was always looking for batteries to make her appliances work, from flashlights to CD players. So when it came time to do a science project, the 8-year-old set out to create electricity.

With help from the Internet, he built a miniature model of a generator.

"You don't need batteries to light something up," he concluded. "You just need some wire and some magnets."

His project won him first place among third-graders at Seeliger Elementary School. He was honored Wednesday at the districtwide Science Recognition Night at Western Nevada Community College, where winning projects from all of the schools were displayed.

His father, Emilio Sanchez, was impressed with his son's work.

"It was a good experience for him to develop some understanding of the sciences," Sanchez said. "Once you see the principle of how things work, your mind starts to develop and you can come up with new ideas."

Luke Gentner, 12, and his partner, Nick Schlager, 11, did come up with a new idea.

The two created a foot scrubber for people who can't bend to wash their feet for Carson Middle School's invention fair.

"You put your foot inside then you push down on the soap button and move your foot around," Luke explained. "There's a tube that goes down."

After the awards ceremony, students and parents were invited to a reception with refreshments and a collection of scientific displays.

Dr. Dave Williams, professor of engineering, caused a triangle made of aluminum and balsa wood to float in midair.

"It's pulling electrons of oxygen molecules and pushing the ions down against the ground," he explained. "That creates lift. It's like a jet engine."

In addition to recognizing the winners, the ceremony is a good way for the college to reach out to young scientists.

"It introduces the students to science-related education programs," said Mike Greenan, spokesman for the college. "These kids have already shown they have an interest or a proclivity for the sciences."

And it was a chance for students to learn from their peers.

Seventh-grader Heather Bates took an interest in Carlos Robles' project, which placed third for fifth-graders at Empire Elementary School.

For his project, Carlos weighed teeth then soaked them in cola. He weighed them again, noting that each tooth lost mass.

"I want to know why soda would do this to your teeth," Heather said. "You know you don't want to drink that much soda because your teeth will go rotten."

Winners from each school will advance to the Regional Science Fair on March 11-13 at the University of Nevada, Reno. Winners at the regional event will go on to the International Competition in Portland, Ore.

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1272.


A complete list of the winners will be published on the Whatever page in Saturday's Nevada Appeal.


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