Eight students from St. John’s Episcopal School are among hundreds from the Permian Basin who were eligible to head to the Texas Science & Engineer Fair today and Saturday in San Antonio.

Christina Villaloboz, who teaches sixth through eighth grade science at St. John’s, said this is the largest group she knows of that has qualified for the state science fair. Villaloboz said the youngsters were unique and amazing.

Thirteen-year-old seventh-grader Katlynn Nevill’s experiment was “Brain Attain,” which tested brain cognitivity. She hadn’t tried anything like this before.

“My mom goes to college and one of her professors made her run to get her heart racing so she would do better on a test and she did,” Nevill said.

Jaxon Robinson, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, conducted “How Much? How Many? How Far?” to see what acidic liquids reacted better with which acidic solvent.

“I used Mentos and peppermints and sodas and it made bottle rockets,” Robinson said.

He said he had tried the experiment over the summer with vinegar and baking soda and thought it would make a good science project.

Heather LaShomb, a 12-year-old sixth-grader said her experiment was to see if radiation or hydrogen peroxide worked better to lighten hair. Her experiment is called “The Chemistry of Hair Highlights.”

Hydrogen peroxide worked better than radiation, she said.

“My mom used to be a hair dresser, so I thought it would be interesting to see what they did when they were dyeing the hair. I was pretty surprised. I thought that the radiation would do some lightening, but it didn’t,” LaShomb said.

Eleven-year-old sixth-grader Bailey Wight conducted an experiment called “PolarEYEzed.”

“It tested polarization between polarized glasses, non-polarized glasses and no glasses at all. It tested to see which one would help you see through glare. I discovered that the polarized glasses helped you see through glare better because of the film in them. It’s a replica of the film in an eagle’s eye that helps them see through glare,” Wight said.

The idea came to her after a mishap at home.

“We live on a ranch, so I can drive our Ranger around and take care of the cows or something. I was driving with my brother around the ranch and I ran into the tail end of one of our trucks in front of our house. I say it was because of the sun the glare coming off of the truck, so I couldn’t see what was in front of me. I wanted to see if I would have had polarized glasses, could I have missed that truck from seeing through the glare?”

Taylor Weaver, a 12-year-od sixth-grader conducted “Shaking for Suds” to see what type of water was the hardest. She found that well water was hardest and distilled water was softest.

If you wash your clothes in softer water, it will make them brighter and softer and the same for hair.

Eighth-graders Madelynne Battershell, Luke Williams and Jesus Ruiz, all 14, collaborated on an experiment called “To Talk or Not to Talk, That is the Question.”

“Our project was testing the effects of texting while driving because it is now illegal. We were testing to see if talking on a cell phone should be illegal, too,” Williams said.

Battershell said they found the results were similar.

Williams said the idea came from his mother, who is a traffic engineer. In her department, he said, they study crashes and a bunch were of texting while driving or talking on a cell phone, he said.

“With calling on cell phones and asking a series of questions, it was 12 crashes with a .2 millisecond difference and the texting had an average of 13 crashes,” Battershell said. “We tested 15 participants with one practice round each and nine trial runs between the categories of no distractions, talking on a cell phone and texting. They were very close, which surprised us.”

The students thought talking would be less dangerous, but if it’s a serious in-depth conversation, they found people took their main focus off the road, which could lead to further crashes, Battershell said.

Just The Facts

From St. John’s, those going to state are:

  • Katlynn Nevill for her project “Brain Attain.”
  • Heather LaShomb, “The Chemistry of Hair Highlights.”
  • Taylor Weaver, “Shaking for Suds.”
  • Jaxon Robinson, “How Much? How Many? How Far?”
  • Bailey Wight, “PolarEYEzed.”
  • Jesus Ruiz, Luke Williams and Madelynne Battershell, “To Talk or Not to Talk, That is the Question.”

Some 251 students in the elementary division and 144 in the junior/senior division qualified for the state fair from the Permian Basin Science & Engineering Fair, held March 2-3 at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.