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Lynd School students showed off their knowledge at the annual science fair on Friday

LYND — So is a dog’s mouth really more clean than a human’s?

The answer is yes, according to one of the many science fair projects presented on Friday at Lynd School.

“A dog’s mouth is cleaner,” Mallory Evans said. “I tested 10 humans and 10 dogs.”

Evans, who won first place in the fifth-/sixth-grade division, counted colonies of bacteria in a petri dish assigned for each subject.

“I got a sterile swab and put it in the dog’s mouth,” she said. “Then I spread it in an ‘S’ shape and put it in an incubator at 100 degrees for 12 hours. Then I counted the bacteria. I added all of them up and then divided them by 10 and that was the average.”

Evan’s research revealed that the bacteria count for dogs was 120, while the count for humans was 138.

“I had fun doing the project,” Evans said.

There were a lot of other unique science far projects, including ones on magnetic slime, gum, ice crystals in liquid and pressure needed to break a popsicle stick bridge. Halle Nickelson’s project measured different products to see which cleaned pennies the best.

Mikiah Anderson used four different horses and four different cats to see which species could perform a cup trick better. Her hypothesis was that the horses would win because they were “a little smarter in the brain.” It turned out that Anderson was correct.

“Horses can use their brain better and are able to catch on and learn quickly, while the cats kind of minded their own business and didn’t take the time to learn it,” she said.

Evan Estebo choose to do his project on soil fertility.

“With my soils, I compared different fertilizers,” Estebo said. “I found out that the Schultz fertilizer won first. This one right here (Expert Gardener) lost because sadly, when I planted the corn seed and I put the powder fertilizer on it, it dried up.”

Organic Valley soil was the second-best fertilizer, according to Estebo’s findings.

“I thought no fertilizer would be last, but with the Expert Gardener fertilizer plot, no plants emerged,” Estebo said. “I feel the salt index was too high and the salts dehydrated the seed.”

Estebo earned first-place honors in the seventh-/eighth-grade division.

“It felt great,” he said. “The project was really fun.”

Kaleb Mercie’s sound waves project didn’t finish in the top five, but it was certainly one of the most popular with the elementary students who had the opportunity to view all the projects.

“I put the water in the cone of the speaker so that you could see the sound waves,” Mercie said. “It bounces off. I did the sound waves test against higher hertz and lower hertz. I did 40 and 130. I enjoyed doing the project.”

Austin Martinez was a pro at demonstrating his lemon battery project.

“The lemon battery works by citric juice,” Martinez said. “All of a sudden it makes electricity, which then soon travels around the lemons. If you’ll see, they’ll get six to seven volts and it will definitely be enough to actually turn on this LED.”

As a fifth-grader, this year marked the first year of competition for Martinez. Overall, he was pleased with his project.

“I actually like my project this year,” he said. “This is my first year and I got into the top 10.”

Shelby Korman’s project was called “Mold: the cheese story.” She tested mold rates both in and out of the refrigerator for cottage cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan, provolone and cheddar.

“My project kind of started to prove my hypothesis wrong because I thought the provolone would mold a lot slower,” Korman said. “But it was actually the second one to mold. I suggest not keeping it outside the fridge.”

Korman, who finished third in the fifth-/sixth-grade category, found that cream cheese was the first one to mold outside of the refrigerator.

“The mold on the cream cheese turned out to be toxic,” she said. “I learned that everything, after about two days, will start to smell really bad. You should keep cheese in the fridge. It should last at month for sure.”

Science fair organizer Martin Boucek, who teaches middle school science and social studies, said that all fifth- through eighth-graders at Lynd are required to take part in the science fair activity.

“Our science fair is strictly a made-at-home project, so this is the only day we take for the science fair,” Boucek said. “It’s literally a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon. All the work is done at home.”

Boucek noted that since the projects are self-driven, there are noticeably varying degrees of effort displayed.

“That self-drive reflects on both sides,” he said. “Some of the projects show the least amount of work. We always want to see the positive, but you’ll see both. I think seeing them between each other (in the gymnasium) also motivates them for the following year. You see kids stepping up.”

Boucek said he’s pleased that a number of the students have drawn on past science fair experiences.

“What was really interesting this year — as I walked around while the students were getting judged — was that it was nice to hear some of them drawing on their previous experience,” Boucek said. “They were saying like, ‘In my past science fair experiments, this is what I’ve done, and so I’ve changed some things.'”

While the school encourages the youngest science fair winners to advance to regional competition, the school no longer takes the students to Mankato. The Lynd science fair has been backed up over the years because of snow days.

This year marked the largest crowd of supporters in quite some time, which was pleasing to students and staff.

“We always want to invite our parents in and let them show support that way,” Boucek said. “We always appreciate them coming in.”

Lynd School Principal Jason Swenson praised the overall effort of students in addition to noting the large number of parents, grandparents and other community members in attendance.

“I was very impressed with all of our middle school students — the projects, the time and the effort they put into it,” Swenson said. “It was also great to see the nice turnout of parents here as well. It’s one of our favorite days at Lynd Public School.”