A story in Monday's editions of The Washington Post should have stated that Lawrence J. Delaney's prize-winning high school science project involved the folding and unfolding of ribonuclease, an enzyme, not of ribonucleic acid or RNA. Donna Bank's science project, described in the same story, dealt with the effects of cholesterol on the "Sprague-Dawley" rat, which was instead indentified as the "Sprague-Dawson" rat because of a typographical error.
While medals, plaques and ribbons were being bestowed amid grand oratory in the H. D. Woodson High School auditorium yesterday, two high school students and their mothers were out in the lobby getting angrier by the minute.
For Donna Banks, a senior at woodson, and Adrienne Milbourne, a 10th grader at Ballou, it was supposed to have been the culmination of months of effort, and anxiety. Their science projects - Banks' on "Cholesterol and the Effect It Has on Sprague-Dawson Rats," and Milbourne's on "Valium: Effects on the Human Organism" - had made it all the way to the 32nd annual citywide science fair.
But both projects had been disqualified at the last minute, for failing to meet science fair standards governing the treatment of experimental animals.
"We abide by the rules - all of them," explained Thomas E. Diggs, D.C. public schools science supervisor. Banks' project "certainly did display some examples of cruelty to animals," said Diggs, although he refused to say just what those examples were.
Both Bands and Milbourne had failed to required forms certifying that their animals had been treated properly, Diggs added.
In Banks project, the organ of rats fed with large amounts of cholesterol were displayed along-side organ from a control group. Milbourne's project had used thre rats she said, but none had died as a result of her research, she said.
"It's an excellent paper," said teacher Alice Rier if Banks' cholesterol project. "Everyone who looked at this project said that this was done on a graduate level. I am quite sure that some of the judges didn't even understand what they were looking at."
"I used six rats where laboratories use I don't know how many," said Banks. "The project was done under the supervision of six research resource people," she added, explaining that she had obtained her rats from the National Institute of Health.
"I went all through my schoolwide competition," Banks continued. "I won first place and nobody ever said anything about not being in compliance with the rules."
"I think she did a beautiful job," said Larry Brown, a technician with the Food and Drug Administration who said he had advised Banks in her project. "There was no pain here. The animals she used were anesthetized wit carbon dioxide. It's no different from any laboratory experiment with any animals. All the conventional methods of sacrificing animals were used."
"Milbourne acknowledged that she had not secured the advisers or completed all of the forms required by science no one had told her about those rules.
"I'm very emotional about this," said Milbourne' s mother, Sheila, an elementary school teacher in Prince George's County. "I take a big issue with children being discouraged like this."
Asked about the students' complaints, Diggs pointed to a paragraph on the entry blank form that refers to a pamphlet on animal care. He said he had distributed the pamphlet throughout the public schools, but Banks and Milbourne said they had never seen or heard of the pamphlet before yesterday.
The two grand prizes at yesterday's fair went to April Yancey, another Woodson senior, for a project involving the relationship between cell nucleii and cytoplasm, and to Lawrence J. Delaney of The Heights School, whose project involved unfolding and refolding ribonucleic acid (RNA), a key genetic material.
In May, Yancey and Delaney will go to Anaheim, Calif., for the International Science and Engineering Fair.
Among scores of private and public bodies that sponsored special awards at yesterday's ceremonies were Eastman Kodak, the Department of Energy, the National Park Service, the MIT Club of Washington, the Navy and the Air Force.