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Honors Chemistry Students Compete in 66th Science and Engineering Fair of Metro Detroit

Four students competed in the Science and Engineering Fair of Metropolitan Detroit on March 15, representing Catholic Central with pride as they competed against hundreds of other high school students throughout the Metro Detroit area.

Sophomores Benjamin Towne, Jarod Dufield, Evan Flukes, and Braden Kendall represented the school. Towne, Dufield, and Flukes all received fourth place in their respective categories, and Kendall received fifth place.

The students competed at SEFMD with the projects from the school’s annual science fair in which all honors chemistry students participate. All honors chemistry students complete a science fair project and present to a committee of science teachers and AP students during January and February. 

This year's science fair at Catholic Central had many impressive entries, but ultimately, the following students took home the top honors:

  • First Place: Jacob Barta '25

  • Second Place: Benjamin Towne '25

  • Third Place: Henry Theriault-Bevins '25

  • Honorable Mention: Jarod Dufield '25

Barta’s project, “Pushing Beams to their Limits”, tested various 3D-printed beams with different cross-sections to determine their strength. By bracing the beams between two points and holding the bottom and top of those beams from their edges, he applied a load to the top of the beams from their middle, measuring both the force on the beams and how much they deflected. The ultimate mass efficiency of each beam was determined by the force at which they catastrophically failed. Barta's experiment provided insight into the strength of 3D-printed beams and their ability to hold significant weight.

"Soil Water Retention" by Towne aimed to determine which potting soil retained the most water. He used six plastic funnels with weed blocker fabric attached to the bottom held over empty cups. Two-hundred grams of water were added to forty grams of each soil, including cactus potting soil, generic potting soil, and self-watering potting soil, with each variety tested in two ways: one with sifted soil and one with the soil as-packaged. The sifted soil was separated by use of a handheld screen and collected in a tray. Towne's experiment shed light on the importance of soil selection when it comes to plant hydration.

"Watt Kind of Light" by Theriault-Bevins sought to determine which LED lightstrip was most energy and power efficient while creating a framework for similar experiments with the robotics team. He procured three different brands of lightstrips and tested each three times with each test on a different wavelength, starting with blue, then red, and lastly white. He recorded the voltage and amperage each minute for five minutes, calculating the power usage in wattage. During the experiment, he noticed that the amount of power used by each lightstrip did not vary much during a particular trial, but variations existed across trials. Strip C appeared to use the least amount of power overall, providing valuable information for those interested in energy-efficient lighting.

Dufield's experiment, "Penetrating Sounds", aimed to determine what mediums were best at blocking out sound. He emitted a sound inside of a plastic container and recorded the amount of sound that went through a medium, which was in between a decibel meter and a speaker. His experiment concluded that drywall was best at blocking out noise, which he said was most likely due to its high density and mass.

In his experiment titled “Hot Chocolate Showdown”, Flukes set out to determine which type of cup would keep a hot beverage warmest when exposed to cold temperatures. After filling four types of cups (insulated, ceramic, paper, and Styrofoam) with hot chocolate and placing them in a refrigerator set to 2°C, he found that the insulated mug kept the drink the warmest at each time interval. For those who want to keep their hot beverages warmer for longer, Flukes suggested using an insulated cup or travel mug.

Kendall’s experiment, “Watching Paint Dry”, aimed to determine the best conditions for painting. He conducted five tests with five trials each, controlling for the type of sticks, room, paint, and thickness in coats, while varying temperature and humidity. The label on his paint recommended a temperature between 50°F and 80°F and humidity below 85% for proper drying. Kendall found that the recommended temperature and humidity range produced the best results, with conditions that deviated from the recommended range doubling the drying time. He advised that homeowners and painters should take note of these findings to ensure proper drying and avoid delays in construction projects.

All students who participated gained valuable experience in conducting scientific research and presenting their findings. Congratulations to all the winners and participants!

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