Chicken nuggets, magnetic nail star in science fair

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

GALLUP, February 28, 2013

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(Times Photo – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Rows and rows of booths filled with science projects fill the Red Rock Park convention room Wednesday during the Navajo Nation Science Fair in Church Rock, N.M. Over 720 students, kindergarten to twelfth grade, participated in the science fair during the two-day event.

SECOND FROM TOP: Second grader at Ganado Elementary School Fernando Chee Jr poses with his model of the ship, Titanic, Tuesday.

THIRD FROM TOP: Fourth graders Mia Haceesa, left, and Makeesha Clah, at Dzil hna-o-dith-hle Grant School pose next to their "Long Lasting Food in Liquid" booth Tuesday during the Navajo Nation Science Fair.

H ow far would you have to run to burn off the calories contained in 10 Chicken McNuggets?

Answering that question earned a Tuba City student a first-place medal and computer tablet at the Navajo Nation Science Fair, where kindergarten through fourth-grade students from schools across the Navajo Nation came together to share their creative scientific minds at Red Rock State Park on Feb. 26.

"I'm glad something like this is happening where our students are able to use their creativity to explore," said Leandra Thomas, Miss Navajo Nation. "There is so much to learn, and I'm impressed with all the little projects here."

Over a hundred cardboard displays were set-up at the Red Rock Convention Center, and each of them contained a topic discussing different scientific matters related to eight science categories.

Those categories included biology, chemistry, animal science, environmental science, physical science, computer science, engineering, and behavioral and social science.

Some of the topics and questions presented by students included how to make a battery out of a few nickels and dimes, which liquid dissolves this food fastest, Is Big Foot real?, why kids are naughty or nice, making noise from a straw oboe, the science of paintball, and even a display on what part of a sheep people enjoy the most

But like any science fair there are always those projects that stand out the most to judges, and 23 students wowed the judges with their projects as they earned first through third in each category.

Each of the projects were judged based on six different criteria, including scientific investigation, thoroughness, skill, creative ability/originality and clarity/neatness.

Lacy Calamity, 9, of Tuba City Boarding School took first place in the engineering category for her display about how to create a magnet.

Calamity created a magnet out of a nail, wiring, and two batteries. She said she took some copper wiring and wrapped it around the nail before attaching the ends to the negative and positive ends of the batteries.

"I wanted to create a magnet because I never thought a nail would be a magnet," Calamity said about her project. She said the best part about her science project was being able to demonstrate the magnet.

Calamity said she was nervous when she won first place, but excited because she got to be a part of another science fair.

"I know that everyone's a winner," Calamity said.

It wasn't only cool demonstrations that caught the judges' eyes, however. In the behavioral and social science category Jonah Holiday, 10, from Tuba City Boarding School, took first place for his display on fast food and exercise.

"Is this really happening?" Holiday said after being told he won first place. "It feels like this is one of those dreams come true."

Holiday's project focused on fast food from McDonald's, and how much exercise it would take to burn off the calories contained in it.

"I was trying basically to tell people that McDonald's isn't healthy," he said.

But it turned out fast food is even less healthy than Holiday originally thought.

Holiday said his original hypothesis was that you would need to run one mile in order to burn off 10 chicken nuggets from McDonald's, but that was way off.

"You have to run 4.8 miles if you want to get off just the nuggets," said Holiday.

He said the idea for his project came from the fact that everyone is always in a hurry, and they would rather get fast food then cook at home.

"I could show people why McDonald's isn't healthy, and why they should exercise," Holiday said.

Other first-place winners included Mia Tallboy and Roselinda Harvey from Rock Point Community School in animal science; Lindsey Uy from Piñon Elementary School in biology; Teryn Tortalita and Michael Dee from Montezuma Creek Elementary School in chemistry; Alyisha Hale and Jordy Tsosie from Window Rock Elementary School in computer science; Shandiin Charles from Tsehootsoi Diné Bi Olta in environmental sciences; and Pasheen Johnson and Tierra John from Rock Point Community School in physical science. Each winner received a medal and computer tablet.

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