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Projects run gamut at science fair

March 25, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Matthew Shaffer was surprised to find out his dentist's office had cleaner air than his school, his doctor's office or his home.

The sixth-grader at Hooverville Elementary School in Waynesboro, Pa., spent three weeks monitoring air purifiers he set up at the four locations. He displayed his results at the 20th annual Franklin County (Pa.) Science and Technology Fair this weekend.

"My home had the dirtiest filters all three weeks, and the dentist had the cleanest all three weeks," he said.

Matthew, 11, predicted his school would have the cleanest air because it is a smoke-free building, and he thought the construction next door to the dentist would affect its air quality.

He said he was not surprised with the findings at his home, where he has a dog, a father who works in construction and parents who smoke.

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Matthew's project was one of 700 registered for the annual fair.

This year's fair also included a model rocket contest and featured speaker Roy Lee Cooke, one of the "Rocket Boys" who won the 1960 National Science Fair for their homemade model rocket.

Cade Laverty's hybrid rocket engine earned him five first-place honors, including the top prize, the $250 Francis Bacon award.

Laverty, 18, said he saw something similar demonstrated while visiting the Air Force Academy last summer.

"I thought it would be good at the science fair," he said.

From that point on, the Chambersburg Area Senior High School senior had it in his head to create his own version.

He said he spent between 40 and 50 hours in the last month building the engine and testing the effect different gases would have on the amount and duration of thrust.

Other projects ranged from testing the strength of paper towels to Dale Shoop's comparison of parallel and series circuits.

The sixth-grader at Shippensburg (Pa.) Middle School said he knew he wanted to enter a project that involved electricity, so he went with his father's suggestion to compare two kinds of circuits.

"We haven't done this in science yet, so when we study it in class, my teacher has asked me to bring my project in," Dale said.

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