Some Grambling State University Laboratory High School students used their personal experiences to find a creative science fair experiment.
Iyshia Tims explained how she almost lost her life in a car accident because someone was texting and wanted to prove that car distractions negatively affected reaction speed.
“Texting and talking on the phone while driving is dangerous,” said Tims, a junior from Homer. “Most people can’t focus on their surrounding when they are busy doing other things.”
For her experiment, she used three different family members. She required them to talk on the phone while they tried to catch a ruler dropped from their right hand to their left hand that was holding the phone. She supplemented the driving for catching the ruler with each hand.
Based on her research, she proved her original hypothesis: Talking on the phone decreases reaction speed.
Tims is one of the students enrolled in a science class at Grambling Lab. The science students, ranging over all high school levels, participated in a semester-long project that was due Wednesday.
“Originally I wanted this to be a school wide project,” Pamela Payne, the first-year GHS principal, said. “But, it was more effective to start with a small group of students and grow the project from there.”
This was the first time the school has conducted a science fair in a long time, according to the schools officials. Payne believed it was important to bring the fair back.
“I wanted to give our students an opportunity to research and compete on a global scale,” Payne said. “A lot of educational emphasis has been placed on science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) majors, and I want our students to be better prepared for these fields.” GHS students were required to conduct an experiment, write a multiple page research paper and design a tri-fold board to illustrate their investigation. The science fair was open to all high school levels students enrolled in a science class.
Talisia McMurray, a junior from Ruston, believes she is better prepared after completing her project.
“I am proud of my work,” said McMurray. “This wasn’t something I could just put together. It took me time and effort.”
McMurray conducted an experiment on the effectiveness of hair dyes on human hair. She notes that her real lesson did not come from discovering which hair dye worked best, but from the time and effort it had taken her to complete the assignment.
“I would have never thought to do an experiment on hair, but I learned a lot,” said McMurray. She said she learned about how to conduct an experiment, analyze data and use time management skills.
As she checked out the other projects, McMurray said she didn’t think she would be one of the top students but was still proud of her work.
Candace Westbrook, the GHS science teacher, and a group of judges picked the best experiments and will enter those into the regional science fair hosted at Louisiana Tech University in February.
“The science fair was good for the first year in its return,” said Westbrook, who is a first-year teacher and 2013 GSU alumna.
She hopes that her students can improve “making deadlines” and “adhering to guidelines.”
She believes that this science fair was a start.
Payne and Westbrook hope to partner with professors and students at Grambling State University in the Department of Biology and Chemistry to “mentor” and “develop more sophisticated in-depth projects.”
GHS is determined to find ways to motivate and engage students in learning.