Pine Elementary School Science Fair Projects Focus On Environment

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While scientists and environmentalists worldwide struggle with the issue of pollution and pervasive litter, a 13-year-old girl at Pine Elementary School may just have part of the answer in her science fair project.

For the last six months, Kaylynn Rogenstein, a fifth-grader at Pine Elementary School, has been working on her science fair project to create a biodegradable water bottle that after it breaks down, would actually benefit the environment.

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Sarah Davis (left) explains to fellow classmates, Noel Struening and Marcus Villarreal, the different types of light sources in her experiment concerning light pollution in the night sky.

Her project, along with 64 others, 10 more than last year, were on display last Wednesday, Jan. 23 in the cafeteria at Pine Elementary School.

"People don't take enough interest in their environment, it's been proven that the ice caps are melting and we have to do something to change things," said Rogenstein.

As Rogenstein explained it, the way it works is grass seeds would be imbedded in wax at the bottom of biodegradable water bottles, and after they break down, they would deposit the seeds in the ground and instead of leaving an unsightly plastic water bottle on the ground, would actually grow grass.

Recently, the issue of discarded plastic water bottles littering America's highways and roads has received national attention, and Arizona is no exception in the seeming dilemma.

All you have to do is drive along virtually any road in Arizona and you will inevitably see countless empty plastic water bottles along the side of the road.

Rogenstein's, idea could potentially help clean up the environment, as well as save thousands of government dollars in clean-up costs, and even help slow global warming because there would be less burning of trash.

Rogenstein said that while she doesn't think people litter on purpose, she believes a lot of them are simply not aware of the effects their actions have on the environment.

"A lot of people just throw water bottles out their windows as they're driving down the road without even thinking about it," she said.

"If the bottles had grass seed in them and were biodegradable, they would end up just growing grass for the animals to eat and help put oxygen back into the air."

Another industrious 12-year-old at the school, Sarah Davis, worked on a project dealing with light pollution.

Davis said is a stargazer at night and wanted to find out how to get rid of the ambient light so she could see the stars better when looking into the night sky.

Using a tarp with small holes cut in it to cover a room she built, she placed three flashlights outside the tarp to shine through the holes like stars.

Next, using various colors and intensities of light bulbs, Davis discovered a red bulb, like the ones used in darkrooms, produced the least glare and allowed maximum light to come through.

Davis said the red bulb worked the best, but a regular incandescent bulb with tin foil around the lamp housing worked nearly as well.

She said a fluorescent bulb and one she rigged with mirrors for reflectors worked the worst, canceling out almost all starlight.

Some possible uses for her discoveries could be airports where glare can be a problem, and that if bulbs producing less ambient light were used by most people in their homes and for public lighting, astronomers would be able to see better through telescopes in their quest for answers to the mysteries of the cosmos, Davis added.

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