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Fannett-Metal students take top honors at science fair

March 31, 2003|by BONNIE HELLUM BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Two students from a small, rural school district in northern Franklin County took home the top awards at the 21st annual Franklin Science and Technology Fair, held this past weekend at Chambersburg Area Middle School.

Winning Grand Champion honors was Fannett-Metal High School junior Robert Pye, 17. His project, "The Attraction of Termites to Fungal Metabolites," investigated organic ways to get rid of termites.

The son of Albert and Naomi Pye, Willow Hill, Robert took home a trophy, a rosette, $250 from the Franklin Science Council and a subscription to Scientific American magazine. He also won a $100 savings bond for the environmental science award sponsored by Letterkenny Army Depot; the Francis Bacon Prize for scientific method, background knowledge and original research, sponsored by James P. and Ruth Ann Smith; and the Dian Fossey Prize in zoology and animal behavior sponsored by Lincoln Way Animal Hospital. The latter two awards each consist of framed certificates and $250 in cash.

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Champion honors went to Stephanie Koogle, 17. A senior at Fannett-Metal High School, she investigated the organic treatment of mastitis. Stephanie's science teacher, Mathern Mellott of Harrisonville, Pa., has a herd of 100 dairy cows, she said. He noticed signs of mastitis, an udder infection, in some of the cows, and wanted to treat it. She took milk samples from nine cows and tried various organic treatments. She had a 60-percent success rate with intramuscular injections of vitamins A and E.

"These defend the body in a natural manner," she explained.

She received $150, a trophy, a rosette and a subscription to Scientific American. She also won a framed certificate and $250 cash from Scotland Family Medicine for the Anton van Leeuwenhoek prize in microbiology.

The daughter of Lynda Wagner of Fannettsburg, Pa., Stephanie plans to attend Shippensburg (Pa.) University in the fall.

"We are so proud of them," said James P. Smith, president of the nonprofit Franklin Science Council, which organizes the fair. "These students did original work; they do not take the cookbook approach. They started with a question in their minds and did their own independent research to reach a conclusion. They adhered to the scientific method. And they did useful work."

About 900 projects from Franklin County school and home-schooled students in grades kindergarten through 12 were displayed. The number of projects is a record for the fair.

The Pennsylvania State University Science Lions, a club of undergraduate and graduate students who travel to various events to share science with children, presented five demonstrations on Saturday. The most popular was a Hovercraft on which students could ride.

Smith explained that the Science Lions vary the level of their demonstrations to accommodate the wide range of ages of students. The younger students enjoyed the "What's for Dinner?" demonstration manned by Julie Kohley, a sophomore biology major from Pittsburgh. Children used a wrench, spoon, clothespin, straw and toothpick to simulate a bird's beak, and tried to pick up various types of food that birds find in the wild. This taught the relationship between form and function, Kohley said.

The Franklin Science Council dedicated this year's fair to the seven astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia.

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