(Above) Hayden Persad with his project

(Above) Hayden Persad with his project

Creston students earn gold, silver at regional science fair

Web Lead

  • Apr. 14, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Hayden and Nadine Persad brought home gold and silver medals from the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Science Fair in Nelson on April 2.

Hayden, who is a Grade 6 Adam Roberston Elementary School student, earned a gold medal for innovation. Nadine, a fourth grader, earned a silver medal for her project about the “best before” dates on food packaging.

“I want to make clean energy for the world — something I can use in my daily life,” Hayden said.

His project, “Walking on Energy: The Power of a Step”, demonstrates how energy is created when pressure is put on certain solids, including crystals. After researching piezoelectricity, Hayden ordered small metal discs containing crystals (“We got 16 discs for $16,” he said) and other necessities.

“I had to learn to use a ‘breadboard’ and to make a diode rectifier to change the AC current that the piezoelectric disc makes into DC current that the LED light uses,” he said.

He set the discs and wiring into a rubber mat that is placed on a step. When person walking on the stairs treads on the mat, the pressure creates mechanical stress that produces a tiny spark of electricity that activates an LED light.

It is the same technology that creates the spark in a push-button barbecue starter or quartz watch.

“It’s used on dance floors and light-up shoes, too,” he said. “I think the discs could be put into car tires to create energy when the car is moving.”

He is already planning another project for next year’s competition that will feature a bigger model to generate more electricity.

“The judges said I could just keep going on and on with my food projects,” said Nadine.

In previous years she has done projects demonstrating that aging corn kernels affects how they pop and about how gummy bears absorb various types of liquids.

This year, Nadine’s interest was stimulated when “my mom gave me a yogurt that was past its ‘best before’ date.”

For her project, “How Do They Know?”, she researched on the Internet about how those dates are determined and then went on a shopping excursion to purchase different brands of yogurt. She and her family sampled the different brands over a span of days that began before the best before date and ended a week after the date had passed.

She was fascinated that in different brands varying amounts of whey floated to the surface of the yogurt.

“Liberty yogurt had a little more whey,” she said.

Even a week after the best before date the yogurt tasted fine.

“In my research I learned that yogurt can be eaten until it starts to mould,” she said. “I’m not sure how long that would take.”

Like her brother, Nadine looks for ways in which her projects can change lives. In a visit to Overwaitea Foods, she queried manager Ron World about how the store deals with best before dates. With yogurt, she said, the product is pulled from shelves two days before the date printed on the packaging.

“I asked him what happens to that yogurt and Ron said it is thrown away,” she said. “Then I told him that our school has a breakfast program and that the yogurt could be used for that so it doesn’t go to waste.”

Now, she said, arrangements are being made to include that yogurt in the school program.

“This is going to help lots of kids have a healthy breakfast in the morning,” she wrote in her project.

Nadine doesn’t know what the subject for her next project will be, but food has become a fascination.

“I learned that about one-third of the food in the world goes to waste,” she said. “I want to find ways to make sure more of it gets used.”