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Students show their skills in science fields

April 04, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A device that might help amputees improve their mobility was the topic of a science project that earned a Fannett-Metal High School junior the Grand Champion trophy Sunday at the 23rd annual Franklin Science and Technology Fair.

Daniel Shope, 17, built a prototype of a specialized walker as part of his project, Anthropomorphic Bi-Pedal Walkers: Application of Passive-Dynamic Robotics, which was entered in the engineering division.

Daniel began to research the idea at the beginning of the school year, he said, because the device was something he was interested in as a hobby. The humanoid walker can walk down a slope and uses little energy. The project also won the Wilbur and Orville Wright prize in engineering.

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He also entered a project in the physics division, receiving an honorable mention award. He took home nine awards, with a cash value of $1,100.

Daniel's parents, Thomas and Brenda Shope of Dry Run, Pa., attended the fair with him. Daniel said he plans to major in mechanical engineering in college.

Fannett-Metal students swept most of the major cash awards and category awards. All three awards in the chemistry division went to Fannett-Metal students, with senior Amanda Fignar placing first.

Fignar also won the Linus Pauling prize in chemistry, the Allesandro Volta Prize in energy research and technology, and the Rachel Carson Prize in environment and ecology. Fignar won the Francis Bacon Prize for scientific method, background knowledge and original research for the second year in a row.

All of the computer science, medicine and health, zoology and engineering category awards went to Fannett-Metal students.

The Fannett-Metal group, which is from the smallest school district in Franklin County, also won the team trophy in the senior division, which "has never left the confines of Fannett-Metal High School to this day," James Smith said in presenting the award. Smith is president of the Franklin Science Council, which sponsors the event at Chambersburg Area Middle School.

The competition drew 650 student entries in primary through senior divisions.

Sarah Jones, 12, a homeschooled seventh-grader, won first place in the environmental category for her project, Is Our Water Well?, then went on to receive the top award in the junior division.

She also won a $100 savings bond from Letterkenny Army Depot. Col. Andy Smith, who presented the award, noting that the award is funded by the depot's recycling program. Sarah received $50 from Wilson College for clearly demonstrating the use of the scientific method, and one of five Ben Franklin Awards for Excellence.

For her project, Sarah collected six sterile containers of water from sites between the Antietam Creek and the Potomac River. She went to a commercial laboratory where she tested the samples for e-coli and coliform.

"I incubated them at 35 degrees centigrade (Celsius) for 24 hours," she said. Some of the samples contained the illness-causing bacteria; the most heavily contaminated ones had come from areas where the streams flow through farmland, she said. Sarah is the daughter of Daniel and Debra Jones of Waynesboro, Pa.

Students were not the only ones receiving awards. The Carl Sagan Science Teacher of the Year award went to Ruth Freck, a sixth-grade teacher at Fairview Elementary School in Waynesboro.

"She has a hands-on approach to teaching science," Dr. Orville Yoder, interim CEO of Menno Haven Inc., said in presenting the award. "She is known among her colleagues as a 'science freak.'"

Menno Haven funded the award.

Amy Crider, an eighth-grader at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, received the Charles Lyell Prize in geology from Valley Quarries. Lyell was the father of modern geologic science, according to Randall VanScyoc, who presented the award.

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