“My project is about biodegradable plastics and what environment they best degrade in– soil, fresh water, or salt water,” says Justine Garcia, 12, of Buchser Middle School. “I recorded the lengths and widths of nine pieces of biodegradable plastic after they were submerged in all three substances for 25 days. I found that the plastic in soil degraded the most and the fastest. I did this project to see how it would impact our environment if we were to change all commercial plastic to biodegradable plastic.”
Garcia’s science project was one of 338 projects from 17 schools that filled the gym of Santa Clara High School at the district’s May 11 science fair.
“The objective of our fair is to promote science education and STEM education in the Santa Clara school district,” says Jennifer Whitten, district science fair co-chair. “Additionally, we feel that the fair helps students gain life skills, such as public speaking, science exploration skills and problem solving skills. This year is also the first time we are previewing some STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) projects because next year we are adding those to the science fair. None of these STEAM projects are judged as they are strictly for demonstration.
Whitten’s co-chair for the fair was Jennifer Hoppe. Funding for the fair came from the Santa Clara Unified School District as well as the Santa Clara Schools Foundation and the Science Factory summer camps. Local businesses donated food and beverages for the judges and volunteers. Some members of Santa Clara Unified Parents volunteered. Among the 75 judges were school board member and former district science fair chair Jodi Muirhead, school board member Andy Ratermann, Google engineer Dave Stiver, State Farm Agency owner Tressa Williams, scientist Nichole Soterwood and Miss North Bay 2016 Jessa Carmack.
Ajay Griffin, 11, of Sutter Elementary School, wanted to compare the amount of electrolytes found in orange juice and Gatorade. Electrolytes are mineral substances a body loses during perspiration.
“I built a conductance sensor and I put this in each liquid and I did it three times,” Griffin says. “The readings came up on the multimeter, which I recorded for each try. Doing my calculations, I found that orange juice had more electrolytes than Gatorade.”
Xiuhkoatl Gonzalez, 10, of Millikin Basics+ Elementary School, wondered how long it would take to get a homopolar shuttle, a motor battery made from magnets, through a 16 inch-long copper coil when he added more compounds.
“This is a battery that goes through a copper wire,” says Gonzalez. “I used seven magnets and I recorded the results. The average time of the battery to power through the magnets took less than a second.”