Shelton's budding young scientists test their theories at SIS Science Fair

Student Amanda D’Amico has noticed that her pet hamster Tater likes music. In fact, Tater is so fond of music that he runs across the cage to get near a speaker.

As a project for the Shelton Intermediate School (SIS) Science Fair, Amanda decided to find out what kind of music the hamster likes best.

She played different types of music over a two-day period, observing how Tater reacted, for the science project she titled "Tater Tunes."

“It turns out he likes classic rock,” said Amanda, noting this is also her parents’ favorite genre of music.

Amanda presented one of 26 projects in the science fair, and early this week a panel of judges — from teachers to engineers — came to SIS to look at the students’ work.

Project topics ranged from “Can Electricity Go Through a Pickle to Turn a Light Bulb On?” to “Lotion vs. Petroleum Jelly.” Projects were done either by individual students or two-person teams.

Investigate problems, and be inspired

Kristen Hart, SIS science department chairman, said the fair enables students “to apply scientific methods to investigate problems that interest them in science.”

Perhaps more importantly, the seventh and eighth graders also were able to meet people who make a living in the world of science.

“They get to interact with scientific engineers in the real world and learn how they were inspired to get into the field,” Hart said.

The judges were impressed by what they saw.

“The kids are great. I think there’s a lot of potential here,” said judge Bob VanEgghen, who works at PerkinElmer.

“I’m very impressed,” said judge Sarah Davis of Sikorsky Aircraft. “It’s nice to see them put in so much effort. This is where they will get the inspiration to be the scientists of our future.”

Dissolving liquids

Student Nicholas Asanoff looked into “The Dissolving Properties of Different Liquids.”

He dropped Smarties candies into seltzer, bottled water and vinegar to see how they would dissolve.

His hypothesis was that the candy would dissolve quickest in seltzer because it’s carbonated, and that turned out to be the case. “The fizz gets inside the air holes of the candy,” Nicholas said.

Jordan Butler worked with classmate Jacob Zamani on “Hand-Eye Coordination: Difference in Age and Gender.”

Jordan said he’s always noticed how some people are better at catching balls than others, and their experiment involved tests to find out why. They concluded older kids tend to have better coordination.

Food color and taste

Brianna Capela and Delainey Maybeck have always wondered about foods that are colored for the visual impact.

In their “Does the Color of Food Affect Its Taste?” project, they gave plain and colored cupcakes to their classmates to see which ones they would prefer.

“Our hypothesis was right — they taste better if they’re not colored,” Brianna said. “The color changed the taste.”

Adam Krzywosz and Noah Vargoshe worked together on “The Zepplin Hovercraft.” They filled different-sized balloons with air and measured how far they would travel, and found that the larger balloons went farther.

Brain cells

Jared Lawrence looked into “The Effect of Additives on Plant Germination.”

He said his mother “is a big health freak” who tells him artificial sweeteners “overstimulate brain cells,” so he wanted to see if giving aspartame to plants with water would negatively impact growth when compared to giving them white sugar, brown sugar and plain water.

“It was true,” Jared said. “It’s like a drug, or a poison.”

Jinkuk Hong put onions in containers to see if they would grow based on whether they heard recordings of good words or bad words, in his “Do Plants Have Emotions?” project.

Like the positive reinforcement he said he gets at home, Jinkuk said the good words led to better growth. “It’s like when your parents tell you you’re doing a good job,” he said.

Allison Nielson and Emily Yih’s “The Effect of Color on Memory” tested how people would remember words printed in different colors on pieces of paper.

Allison said people could recall words printed in black better than those printed in colors.


The judges talked about what had inspired them to pursue a science-related career.

“I always loved math, and chemistry was my favorite science,” said Peter Montagna, a chemical engineer at Henkel Corp.

Many judges told the students that when they were younger, they loved to take things apart to see how they worked.

“I always enjoyed figuring out how things are put together,” said judge John Niski, robotics instructor and athletic director for the Shelton schools.

The judges talked about how every day is different at their jobs, whether they are investigating the shelf life of consumer goods products, making instruments that can analyze what products are made of, or helping design helicopters.

Other projects

The other students and their experiments were:

— Yasmeen Dabiran and Samantha Sorrentino, “Music to My Heart”

— Jake Ferrigno and Max Macchia, “Lemon Clock”

— Rachel Hanson and Jessica Perley, “The Crack Proof Phone Case”

— Ayyan Mumtaz, “How Does Temperature Affect Batteries?”

— Tim Hafele and Steve Lawrence, “Can Electricity Go Through a Pickle to Turn a Light Bulb On?”

— Gavin Newell, “Which Common Drink Damages Teeth the Most?”

— Kerry Brown and Kaitlyn Marcinko, “Colorful Memories”

— Samantha Tiberi, “Is Your Nose Really Accurate?”

— Maura Cummings and Molly Ingram, “Germ Freaks”

— Audrey Falsetti and Britney Guedes, “Does Gender Affect Short-Term Memory?”

— Lauren Pawlowski, “Lotion vs. Petroleum Jelly”

— Timothy Carlson, “Is It Necessary to Spend More on Disinfectant to Kill Bacteria?”

— Iztihaad Haq, “How Can Drinks Affect Exercise Performance?”

— Carey Evon and Kelsey Gillen, “Minty Cool”

— Madison Katinger, “Least Amount of Smoke”

— Dominique Martinez, “Cupcake Delight”

— Sophia Marino, “Effectiveness of Garlic in Fighting Bacteria”

— Deloshene Sittambalam, “The Effect of Gymnema Sylvestre on Blood Sugar Levels”