13 May 2008

Busy Saturday (May 10)

Morning: I was a judge for the Outstanding Physics Project Award at the Ohio State Science Day.

We judged two age categories. I was a judge for grades 10 - 12, but most of the other judges examined the more numerous projects from grades 7 - 9.

At the 10-12 (high school) level, the winners were:

  1. Keith A, Hawkins, "Correlations between supermassive black holes and intergalactic light shed on galaxy collisions in compact clusters," Glen Oak HS, Canton
  2. Nathan J. Bryant, ".22 LR: Cost vs. precision," Xenia Christian HS, Xenia
  3. Mary L. Stuhldreher, "Does your timber have timbre? Finding the best wood for marimba bars," Wadsworth HS, Wadsworth
I was very impressed with all of these projects; they gave us renewed hope for the future of science in Ohio and America. Most notably, Mr. Hawkins is doing active astrophysical research with scientists at Ohio University. He seems to have a good start on his Ph.D. thesis, and he is still in high school!

Several of the projects were from Christian schools throughout Ohio, which I find encouraging. They were required to have a "Biblical Application" as part of their project. The most common applications I saw involved Biblical exhortations to be patient. As a fifth-year Ph.D. student, I can attest to patience being an important part of science. Mr. Bryant instead chose Matthew 7:16-19, which is about knowing false prophets by their "fruits." In this case, he was referring to ammunition manufacturers and the cost of their .22 Long Rifle shells. I had never considered this passage in that particular context before.

At the 7-9 (middle school) level:

  1. Benjamin M. Pifher, "Why winglets," Mechanicsburg HS, Mechanicsburg
  2. Lisa N. Guo, "How the magnetic field strength affects the speed of a motor," Solon HS, Solon
    (tie) Aarti Kumar, "Variables that affect natural battery output," Mason HS, Mason
  3. Elizabeth A. Bancroft, "Effects of temperature on tennis ball bounce," Lial School, Whitehouse

Early Afternoon: I drove to Target using a car from Zipcar. It was the first time I have every driven a hybrid. The experience was different from driving a car with only an internal combustion engine. Specifically, it was usually quieter, and the regenerative braking made the pedal feel spongier than plain disk breaks. At Target, I finally spent most of the gift card my sister gave me for Christmas.

Late Afternoon: I rode to the house of my friend and colleague Joe, who recently defended is Ph.D. To celebrate, he bought a large charcoal grill and invited us over for its inaugural Bar-B-Que. We had seven courses: appetizer, bratwurst, mettwurst, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, chicken, and chocolate cake. It was all good, and we were all very full.

Evening: The final event of the day was a birthday party for a friend. I arrived a little late with a stomach laden with BBQ. I gave him a birthday card that I had purchased at Target. We played a few games on their Nintedo Wii, which was a first for me. The motion sensing technology was quite good, but it required some adaptation. It also burned a few calories from the BBQ and birthday cupcakes.

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