Sunday, September 19, 2004

Seventh-grader rises in national science contest

Good Things Happening

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Julie Morris, a seventh-grader from Twenhofel Middle School in Kenton County is a semifinalist in the 2004 Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge contest.

The 12-year-old student said she became interested in a chemistry project while looking for an experiment to do in her mom's science books. Her mom, Debbie Morris, is a science teacher at Twenhofel.

Julie found an article about oil-absorbing polymers.

"My mom said it was too bad this stuff wasn't invented during the Exxon Valdez accident,'' Julie said. "That got me wondering if it would have worked on crude-oil spills around the world. That is when I decided to find out if water temperature affects the way the oil-absorbing polymer works.''

Julie had already studied the difference between charcoal and diamond, which dealt with molecular formation.

"They both are made out of carbon, but the difference is the way the carbon molecules are bonded,'' she said. "With charcoal, the bond is very loose and the molecules can move very easily back and forth. With diamonds, the carbon molecules are almost like the steel skeleton of a high-rise building Those molecules do not move.''

That is when Julie said her interest in chemistry began to sprout.

"She did her project January, February and March of this year,'' said Debbie Morris. "I just kept her on a timetable and kept reminding her when she had to finish it.''

Julie competed among 7,500 students from regional and state fairs from 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Forty finalists will be selected Monday, who will go to Washington, D.C., to compete for scholarship money.

FAA Airman tests

The Gateway College Covington campus can now offer the Federal Aviation Administration Airman Knowledge tests.

The tests will include aircraft dispatcher, airline transport pilot, flight navigator, aviation mechanic, commercial, recreational and private pilot; military competence, flight engineer, flight and ground instructor.

"This is a major accomplishment for the Tristate aviation community that Gateway can offer this wide array of testing,'' said Tom Dowd, Gateway's Aviation program director.

"A local centralized testing station and the ability to provide immediate test results will be a valuable tool for the airlines' flight and mechanic schools, repair stations and the recreational enthusiasts.''

Positively kids

Nikki Matteoli, an eighth-grader at St. Therese School, Southgate, won a free backpack after she attended a class to learn how to use it, how to load it, how to carry it and what kind of backpack to purchase.

Nikki attended a program called Ergonomics for Kids given by Cardinal Hill of Northern Kentucky, a center for rehabilitative medicine in Florence.

"Often students don't realize the possible injury to the back by overloading a backpack,'' said Carol J. Rich, a social worker for Cardinal Hill. "Some of the symptoms include shoulder and neck aches, headaches and back strain and pain. Nikki won the backpack when her name was pulled from a list of about eight students who attended the class.''

Physical therapists Shannon Devany and Dan Cross conducted the program.

On the move

Northern Kentucky students on the move include: Kurtis Mahan, a Conner High School graduate, who received a $9,000 scholarship to attend DeVry University in Columbus.

Stephen James Cook of Edgewood, who attends the University of Louisville, was selected for membership in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Reema Paranthan, Erlanger, will be enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Technology, a private university that awards degrees in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, architecture, psychology, design, business and law.

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