Winners from last week's ceremony announced

The Delaware Technical School in Stanton held its 23rd annual Science Fair last week, with students from throughout New Castle County in grades six through 12 vying for prizes.

Students compete at their level and are judged by a diverse panel of experts. Judges evaluate the projects and question students about how they arrived at their scientific conclusions.

Winners are presented monetary awards in each category and are eligible to compete in the Regional Competition at the Delaware Valley Science Fair held in Philadelphia, Pa, April 3 to 5.

Finalists of the regional competition will move onto the International Science and Engineering Fair May 13 to 18, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

We talked with a few students about their projects and learned some amazing things. Like:

You can model “chaotic motion”

Saman Verna, 17, from Charter School of Wilmington, used research and models to determine how to track “chaotic systems” like the weather, by tracking patterns.

“The thing about chaotic motion is that it gets confused with randomness,” Verna said. “Randomness just ‘happens,’ whereas chaos can be modeled.”

Verna added that researchers are just now scratching the surface of chaotic motion and its near-universal applications.

“For example, the heart even involves chaotic motion,” he said. “It’s such an interesting field, but it’s so hard to model … but if you can boil it down to two, three, four conditions, you can model it.”

Peppermint affects reaction times

Taylor Holzbaur, 16, of William Penn High School, determined that eating a peppermint can affect reaction time when taking a test.

“When you eat a peppermint, it stimulates something in your brain – in your frontal lobe – that increases your reaction time,” Holzbaur said.

For the project, Holzbaur administered tests to five people over the course of 15 seconds, where they had to press a start button, and then hit the stop button at the end of the time.

“Without the peppermint, they were slower in clicking the button, but after the peppermint they were faster,” she said.

She also thinks the added sugars and dyes used in traditional peppermints played a factor.

“I think if we had used straight peppermint oil, we’d have seen different responses,” Holzbaur said.

Men and women have similar memories

Madison Downey, 16, from Archmere Academy, figured out that men and women have very similar capacities for memory.

Working with a group of males and females, Downey said she removed the age factor in order to focus more directly on gender.

“The groups were made up of different ages, from elementary school, high school/college level people, and older adults,” she said.

What she found through her background research is that while there are no physiological differences between the male and female brain, there are differences in functionality due to certain hormones.

“Due to the physiological similarities, I hypothesized that there is no real difference when it comes to memorization skills,” Downey said. “I also found that the different ages actually do cause a difference.”

For example, younger males and females had a harder time recalling details shown to them, while older folks remembered questions they’d been asked, but answered with less accuracy.

“The teen group and college group answered most questions correctly,” she said.

For a full list of winners, check this story online at