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By BOB FRYER Jewish Press
Hillel School of Tampa will be well represented in the state Science & Engineering Fair on March 23-25 in Orlando, sending three of the 16 middle school students from all of Hillsborough County to compete in the event.
The Hillel middle school students selected for the state event did so by winning high honors at the science fair held in mid-February, which is open to both public and private schools.
The winners are:
• Elina Rodriguez, who captured first place in behavioral sciences and captured the Florida Psychological Association’s first place award and the American Psychological Association Award;
• Goldie Shaw, who won the Lowry Park Zoo award and placed second in the zoology category,
• Marlin Jacobson, who won the first place microbiology award.
All three students are taught by Amy Basham, and sending students from Hillel to state competition is nothing new for her. “We have been sending one for the past seven years, almost every year, and in some years, multiple students,” she said.
Rodriguez, who is in eighth grade, titled her project “An Analysis of the Effect of a Community Based Social Marketing Approach for Behavior Modification on Negative Social Behavior in Children.” For this project, Basham said, Rodriguez was inspired by a leader in environmental psychology who has conducted studies to address possible methods for modifying behaviors.
Basham said Rodriguez used anonymous surveys given to more than 100 students at Hillel over a period of three weeks to measure negative social behavior. Asked if this study was about bullying, Basham said this is not the term preferred by her students because it addressed more than that. After studying current behavior for a week (students filled out the survey daily to report on negative behaviors they observed) Rodriguez introduced a jingle, a pledge, wristbands, mentorship and other methods to inspire kids to modify their behavior and to become aware of their behavior. She continued the surveys for the week these tools were implemented, then for the following week. Her findings were that the tools used to modify behavior were most effective on boys and younger children and that overall, the tools increased awareness of bullying and other negative social behavior.
Jacobsen, a sixth-grader, tackled this question: “Are Mall Parks Designed for Children Really As Clean As They Seem?”
“She selected three malls in Tampa and collected samples from three locations in each mall park in the morning and evening and analyzed those samples in a lab to determine the number of bacterial colonies present,” to show levels of cleanliness, Basham said. Jacobson found “a shocking amount of bacteria,” Basham said, adding that contrary to what one might expect, there was much more bacteria present in the mornings than the evenings.
Eighth-grader Shaw’s project was, “Copper Inhibition of Fecal Bacterial Growth of a Water Container in a Reptile (Eublepharis macularius) Enclosure.” Basham explained that an Eublepharis macularius is more commonly known as a leopard gecko. Shaw compared the growth of fecal bacteria in water plastic and copper water containers in the gecko’s cage and found that copper works better than plastic for inhibiting the bacteria. The importance of that is that while the bacteria are not harmful to geckos, Basham said, it could be harmful to gecko owners. One possible BActerium that is a threat to owners is salmonella, she said.
Other middle school students from Hillel who won honors at the county science fair are:
• Danielle Brener, second place in behavioral sciences, second place from the Florida Psychological Association and the Encyclopedia Britannica Award;
• Carly Rodriguez shared second place from the Florida Psychological Association, and won honorable mention, behavioral sciences;
• Maura Astra, third place from the Florida Psychological Association and an award of merit, behavioral sciences;
• Joshua Perez, honorable mention, zoology;
• Melody Eckert and Amber Shemesh, award of merit, behavioral sciences.
The Hillel students who won awards in the Elementary Division are:
• Ethan Hinds, fifth grade award of superior;
• Aaron Scheiner, fifth grade award of merit and the Technology of the Future award;
• Jordan Fox, fourth grade award of superior;
• Asher King, fourth grade award of superior;
• Noah Gamson, Isaac Chernin, Abby Forman and Drew Selig, third grade awards of outstanding,
• Molly Orlick, third grade award of merit.
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