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Four Canterbury students earn top honors at Edison Science & Engineering Fair

By Staff | Mar 2, 2010

Four local students from Canterbury School were recognized by judges last month during the Edison Regional Science & Engineering Fair.
Each year students at Canterbury enroll in an “independent study” program where they work to perfect an experiment under the advisement of a teacher. Once the project is finished, students compete in one of two divisions, junior or senior, depending on whether they are in middle or high school.
“It’s a semester-long research class, actually it’s a year long because now we are preparing to get ready for next year,” said Kelly Etcheverry, a science teacher. “They aren’t given class time for it so they have to do it individually or in mandatory group meetings.”
Etcheverry explained that students choose an idea they are interested in and teachers help them to formulate their idea into a problem that can be tested using science. By the end of the project the teachers are only helping students to submit their paperwork for the fair, she said.
Approximately 400,000 students created science projects this year, said Etcheverry, and by the time judging began that amount was reduced to 410. The regional fair included schools from all over Southwest Florida.
Jacob Dufault, a junior at Canterbury, was named Best of Fair in the senior division for a computer science project named “Examining the Effects of Different Random Number Generators on Perlin Noise With Different Number Distributions.”
His project optimized a mathematical algorithm used in computer graphics for films like “Star Wars” or “Shrek.”
“There is perlin noise, which is an algorithm that enhances graphic imagery, like computer graphics and animations,” he said. “I would like to see it used in real time graphics like a video game.”
Later this year Dufault will compete at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair, as well as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. He also received a Yale Science and Engineering Association award, an Intel Excellence in Computer Science award, an award from Florida Association of Science Teachers and a full scholarships to Florida Gulf Coast University.
Mercedes Zambrano, a senior, tested whether a rectal or ear thermometer was more accurate in reading an animal’s temperature. She earned first place in their division and decided to conduct this test after interning with a local veterinarian.
“She wanted to know if it would be more comfortable for the animal to use an ear thermometer,” said Zambrano. “The ear one is not as effective.”
She received a full scholarship to FGCU and will compete at the state competition.
Cape Coral freshman Cheyenne Reynolds, earned second place for her project named “Water Hazard? Does BPA Leached Into Water Bottles Cause Mutation in Drosophila?” Reynolds, an athlete, said she thought of the project from hearing about the possible harmful chemical in water bottles. She said that BPA is known to cause breast or prostate cancer.
“I heard that if you freeze a water bottle, it could cause leaching of BPA and I wanted to see if that was true,” said Reynolds.
A Canterbury student from North Fort Myers, James Harris, also tested three different types of solar panels to find out which one is the most efficient. He earned third place for his project named “Solar Distillation.”
He explained that the parabolic solar panel, shaped like a trough, is the most efficient.