A story about the Montgomery Area Science Fair, published in last week's Maryland Weekly, incorrectly listed two of the winning projects. The story should have read: Grand prizes in the junior division (grades 7, 8, 9) went to Tim A. Chaney, 14, a ninth grader at Tilden Junior High for his work, "Investigating the Breakdown of Vitamin C," and to James S. Small, 14, and eigth grader at St. Camilius School in Silver Spring, for his project, "Testosterone: Does It Affect the Diet?"
"Do Lima Beans Like Birth Control Pills?"
Sandra J. Brodie, a Taithersburg High School senior, found out they do.
The 17-year-old scientists injected her lima bean seedlings with components of the pill and discovered that "they grow like mad."
The experiment won her honorable mention in the 25th anniversary Montgomery Area Science Fair, held last weekend at the National Bureau of Standards in Gaithersburg.
Brodie was among 234 of the county's brightest junior and senior high school scientists who exhibited their experiments in diverse fields of study such as solar energy, peach rot, jogging, hazardous wastes and the Pythagorean Theorem, to mention a few.
The sophistication and professional appearance of the projects displayed at the three-day fair demonstrated the brain power of the science whiz kids, who turned out in record number this year to have their work judged and critiqued by professional scientists, and to exchange ideas with their peers.
Only the faces of the entrants, who represented 31 county public, private and parochial schools, revealed their ages. Once they launched into explanations of their research projects, there was no hint of youthful awkwardness.
This year's judges included representatives of the National Institutes of Health, NASA, the Army, Navy and various science-related professional associations.
Top awards in the senior high school division (grades 10, 11, 12) went to Ben M. Shykind, 16, or Silver Spring, a junior at Springbrook High School. In his project, "An ELISA for B-2-Microglobulin," he developed a technique for checking protein levels in blood and urine to ascertain how well kidneys are functioning. Shykind said he did much of his research at the National Naval Medical Center, on a fellowship from the Montgomery County Heart Association.
Shykind's younger brother Daniel, 13, a student at Francis Scott Key Junior High, took third place in the junior division physics category. An older brother David, 20, now a student at Yale, won a science fair award two years ago.
The older Shykind and fellow grand prize winner Steven F. Nemerson, 17, a senior at Thomas S. Wootton High School, will compete in May in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Milwaukee.
Nemerson, who has been accepted at MIT, began his project, "The Brain Benzodiazetine Receptor" last summer at the National Institute of Mental Health, through a program for high school science scholars sponsored by American University.
Nemerson studied the effect of the popular tranquilizer Valium. His work, he said, was aimed at finding a chemical the body could make naturally that would produce the same effects as the drug.
Nemerson said he won a second-place award at the fair two years ago. He said he was confident he would take the grand prize this year, and added, "I thought I had a very good project that was well done. I'm very excited about winning."
The third top award in the senior division went to Surachai Supattapone, an amicable, 15-year-old junior who submitted work entitled, "Plant-Specific Bacteria." Supattapone, who attends Walt Whitman High School, has taken microbiology courses sponsored by the Maryland Academy of Sciences. An honors student, he plans to pursue a career in medicine. Of his success as a first-time entrant in the fair, he said, "I just got lucky."
Grand prizes in the junior division (grade 7, 8, 9) went to Tim A. Chaney, 14, a ninth grader at Tilden Junior High, for his project, "Testosterone: Does It Affect the Diet?" and to James S. Small, 14, an eighth grader at St. Camillus School in Silver Spring, for his work, "Investigating the Breakdown of Vitamin C."
A first-place award in the senior botany division went to Denise R. Opal, 16, a senior at Springbrook High School. Her work on finding a cure for what is commonly known as ground rot in peaches earned an award from the Institute of Food Technologists, the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
An honors student who hopes to attend Johns Hopkins University this fall, Opal recently received honorable mention for her work from the prestigious Westinghouse Science Projects.
Fair judge Dr. Richard E. Hagen, of the National Food Processors Association, said of Opal's work, "The level of sophistication is quite fantastic."
Almost half of the participants received science fair awards for their work.
In addition, 30 organizations presented awards, including $50 checks, books and plaques, to 59 of the young scientists.
The fair is sponsored by the National Bureau of Standards and is administered by the Montgomery Area Science Fair Association, a nonprofit group founded this year to raise money to promote and conduct science fairs countywide.
According to Dr. John R. Pancella, Montgomery schools science coordinator, the county school system cannot use local tax revenues for science fairs because they are open to students from private and parochial as well as public schools.
Throughout the three days of public exhibition, judging and awards presentations, Pancella was on hand to offer words of encouragement to the contenders.
Besides developing their scientific skills, Pancella said, the young scholars have an opportunity to exchange ideas with peers and professionals and to practice their speaking during interviews with the judges. At noon on Saturday, the competition reached a climax as the names of finalists were selected and the youngsters eagerly gathered around the easel bearing the list of finalists' names. But there were no long faces among those whose names had been dropped. In this group of what one proud parent called "highly motivated and goal-oriented youths" all appeared to consider themselves winners.
The 33rd annual Prince George's Area Science Fair is set for this weekend in the Largo Student Center of Prince George's Community College. Students from public and private schools in Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties will be competing. Exhibits will be open to the public Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday in the Queen Anne Fine Arts Building.