Students gather at 33rd annual MSSU Regional Science Fair | Local News

fFor the first time in two years, prospective future scientists gathered Tuesday in Missouri Southern State University’s Connor Ballroom at the Billingsly Student Center to present research on a myriad of topics and problems.

The 33rd annual MSSU Regional Science Fair was held for the first time in person since 2019, according to Rabindra Bajracharya, fair director and Missouri Southern physics teacher.

“The 31st was canceled due to COVID and last year was virtual,” Bajracharya said. “We planned to do this in a hybrid format, both in person and in virtual format for those unable to attend in person, but no one chose to do this in virtual format. Everyone came in person. It’s really beautiful and really exciting to have it back. The excitement can be seen on the children’s faces. They are very happy to be here again in person and to present their research.”

According to Bajracharya, 60 students attended the fair — 11 in the senior category for ninth through twelfth graders and 49 in the junior category for fifth through eighth graders.

Students come from schools in Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Barton, Vernon, Barry, Lawrence, Cedar, Dade and St. Clair counties in Missouri; and Neosho, Crawford, Montgomery, Labette, Bourbon, and Cherokee counties in Kansas.

Categories include behavioral and social sciences; cell, molecular and microbiology; chemistry and biochemistry; computer science, engineering and mathematics; earth and environmental sciences; human and animal sciences; physics and astronomy; and plant sciences.

Bajracharya said the students have already learned a lot about the research process and research methods from the scientific research they conducted in preparation for the event, but they learn a lot more at the fair.

“They not only learn scientific stuff at the science fair, they also learn non-scientific stuff,” he said. “Some things like networking, how to communicate with people, how to make a beautiful presentation. They learn analytical thinking, critical thinking, which is very important for their career. No matter what field they choose, they still need analytical thinking and critical thinking.”

Pets and CBD Oil

Joplin High School senior Dakota Agee presented the results of her research on how topical application of CBD oil can affect mammals.

In the case of her experiment, she used mice, but her research can be applied to pets.

“My dog ​​has a lot of stress,” Agee said. “I was reading about CBD oil and thought I could do a project on CBD oil and pet stress to see if it lowers that correlation and reduces those stress levels.”

Agee said she takes a research class at Joplin High School to learn more about the research process and that her science project was the result of those classes.

In addition to learning about the research process, Agee said her teacher trained her to present her work and materials even before the results of her research were calculated.

“It’s very nerve-wracking, but it’s also very fun because I worked really hard on it, so I’m happy to share what I’ve found,” Agee said. “I like talking to people about it. I think it’s very interesting. I’m very interested in it and I think a lot of other people are interested in my experiment specifically because a lot of people have pets and can relate to what I’m talking about.”

Defy gravity

Jeanna Smathers, a sophomore at College Heights Christian School, wanted to find the optimal angle for firing a ping-pong ball from an air cannon to get the maximum distance from the combination.

She built an air cannon from instructions she found on YouTube, and then spent an evening conducting experiments, firing the ball from different angles at a given air pressure. She spent another day calculating the math and working out her results.

“I assumed 30 degrees would be the angle at which the ball would be kicked the furthest,” Smathers said. It was kind of guessing and proving because I assumed that at a lower angle it wouldn’t have enough height or arc to go the furthest. If it was higher meanwhile, it would have been too high so it wouldn’t go the distance. I found that 30 degrees was actually the angle at which the ball flew the furthest.”

Smathers said she could think of a number of real-world applications for her research, such as the circus.

“So they have this stunt called Human Cannonball, where they shoot a human out of a cannon,” she said. “If I were in charge of the circus, I would find the kinematic formula to figure out where that person would end up. I would place the safety net there, but if I didn’t test it with a dummy first, it wouldn’t be good because the person might not end up there.”

She can also use this in her extracurricular activities.

“I’m a tennis player and we have a ball machine in practice,” Smathers said. “We set a speed and angle the machine so that the ball flies where we want it to go. But we don’t know what angle to set it to, so we’re going to use trial and error. … So next season I can use my research here and know where to tilt the machine.”