Hyun performed his experiment over 23 days on chicken bones immersed in three solutions: garlic, caffeine and salicylic acid, which is commonly found in aspirin. He found that the bones in the acid appeared to be slightly softer but had no disintegration, as those submersed in caffeine did.
"I used these examples because in regular life, people drink caffeine, eat garlic and take aspirin almost every day," said Hyun, 17. "I was curious as to how it effects the bones. I concluded that caffeine does harm bones; garlic does not harm bones, but makes them stronger, and salicylic acid doesn't necessarily harm them, but makes them weaker."
This year marks the 27th fair sponsored by the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden. Participating students ranged from sixth through 12th grades and were from public and private schools and home-schooled. Categories included behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, zoology, consumer science, and environmental health. Top winners from the fair are eligible to advance to the Delaware Valley Science Fair in April.
Michael Christman, president and CEO of the Coriell Institute, said the fair originally began simply to get students interested in science.
"We think scientific education is a critical mission," Christman said. "The purpose is to expose students to scientific methods of thinking and bring that to bear on societal problems."
More than 70 people from all walks of life were invited to serve as volunteer judges for this year's fair.
Luis Cruz and Victor Feliciano, seventh graders from Veterans Memorial School in East Camden, teamed up for "Swimming to the Beat," a study of the effects of music on beta fish. They determined that music affects the fish's breathing, due to sound waves the fish feels through the water. They studied its gills and how often it breathed using three different-size speakers, Cruz said.
Kevin Mullin and Jared McFarlane, sixth graders from Moorestown Upper Elementary School, teamed to determine the best way to clean germs from hands. Their experiment used a simulated germ solution that can be seen under ultraviolet light. The pair had subjects wash their hands for 20 seconds using three methods - plain water, hand sanitizer, and soap and water. The most effective? Soap and water, Mullin said.
This year's tricounty submissions were very impressive, said Christman, a volunteer judge.
"I'm just kind of blown away by these kids," he said. "The real measure when judging the projects is does the kid actually understand and know about this. These kids are going to be running the world one day. It's comforting to know we're in good shape."
To see the winners in the Coriell Science Fair's many categories, click on "science fair" at www.coriell.org.