STEM Fair participants conduct experiments on different cereal brands, dirty mouths and balloon-induced travel

Annaleigh Rutherford conducted an experiment studying dirty mouths, which she presented during Wednesday night's STEM Fair at Junction City Middle School.

Junction City Middle School hosted a STEM Fair Wednesday night, giving its students — as well as those from nearby elementary schools — an opportunity to showcase their talents. 

The students each operated their own station with poster board displayed that detailed their project, as visitors browsed around taking in some of the projects. 

Quinton Leath, a fifth grader at Eisenhower Elementary, did a project discussing whether people prefer name brand to branded cereal without realizing they were making a choice. In his experiment, participants ate cereal without knowing whether they were eating a name brand or generic store brand. Based on his results, Leath came to the conclusion that 54.5 percent of those surveyed have no preference between the two. Also, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and the generic store brand Great Value Frosted Flakes looked and tasted the most alike to participants, while General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Great Value Cinnamon Toast Crunch looked and tasted the least alike. The consensus was that people preferred the name brand cereals, but don’t mind the generic ones.  

Fourth grader Annaleigh Rutherford completed a project on who has the dirtiest mouth between an adult, a toddler, a cat and a dog. She got her results by swabbing a subject’s mouth, aiming for the tongue and cheek. She then placed the swab onto a Petri dish. Then after a couple days, the amount of bacteria growing on it was examined to present the results. While it may be surprising to some, Rutherford was not surprised to discover that cats have cleaner mouths than a toddler. 

“Toddlers are always putting things in their mouths and cats are always cleaning themselves,” Rutherford said.

Mason Hedleston, a third grader at Sheridan Elementary School, attempted to find out whether a balloon moved objects with smaller surface areas further than those with larger surface areas. His poster board showed pictures of him going through each step of the project, in which he created a hovercraft. To construct the hovercraft, he attached a bottle cap with a nozzle to a disc or paper plate with hot glue. He then blew up the balloon and put it on the nozzle. The final step was to pull up the nozzle and watch it move. After several test runs, Hedleston disovered that an object with a smaller surface area moves better and faster than one with a larger surface area. Hedleston expected that to be the outcome before he began experimenting.

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