Students soar in state science fair|
by Kevin Wilson
Sunny Liu and
Jake Bonner were really just looking for an ‘A’ in their science
They got that, along with a first place at the state
science fair and a chance to move on to the Discovery Channel Young
Scientist Challenge in Washington, D.C.
“This is a little bit
more than we expected,” said Bonner, who is an eighth grader at
Portales Junior High School with Liu.
The pair took first place in the junior team project category
of the state’s Science and Engineering Fair, held in Socorro over
The pair beat out 16 other teams with their
project, “Inhibition of Bacterial Growth by a Commonly Used
Pesticide.” Basically, the pair wanted to find out the effect of the
pesticide Lindane on a bacteria referred to DH5-Alpha ecoli.
The bacteria, Liu said, exists in the spleens of humans and the
stomachs of animals and is used for digestion. Lindane is a
pesticide that is primarily used for lumber, seed grains and
“I have horses and cows,” Bonner said. “I wanted to
know what was going into them.”
Their basic hypothesis was
that the bacteria’s growth would decrease with the increase of the
pesticide. For the experiment, they took four different
concentrations of Lindane in a 25 milliliter sample — none, .01
percent, .1 percent and 1 percent, with two petri dishes for each
Their findings were pretty much in line with
their original hypothesis.
“As the concentration of Lindane
increases,” Liu said, “the growth of ecoli decreases.”
pair was quick to note that the Environmental Protection Agency
limits Lindane usage to a much lower concentration than was used in
their petri dishes.
“The reason we did that,” Bonner said, “is
because following the EPA guidelines would have taken years to
produce (noticeable) results.”
Originally, the pair was just
looking to invest two to three months and do the project just for a
grade. Now, after the regional competition in Portales (March 6) and
state competition in Socorro, they have a first-place finish and a
chance to go to Washington, D.C., in what would be their freshman
year of high school.
As a winner in the state category, Liu
and Bonner received an invitation to enter the Young Scientist
Challenge, scheduled for Oct. 23-28 in Washington, D.C. They still
have to submit their project for consideration, and would earn an
all-expense-paid trip to the event if they were chosen as finalists.
Of course, the pair is still trying to use the first-place finish
for all it’s worth.
“I asked my teacher for extra credit,” Liu
joked, “but I don’t think I’m getting it.