Ever wonder to what tempo a spider would spin its web faster? Or whether regular Coke dissolved an eggshell faster than Diet Coke? Students in grades K-12 all over the Southland have been pondering over these and other hypotheses.
The results of their research are published in the 15th edition of Cal State Northridge’s “The New Journal of Student Research and Abstracts,” which came out this month.
The journal, founded by CSUN biology professor Steven Oppenheimer, highlights young scientific investigators and the teachers who guide them. The journal is published annually by Cal State Northridge and the Van Nuys Airport.
“The journal is a Library of Congress-listed publication that showcases K-12 student research, critical to motivate a new generation of U.S. scientists,” said Oppenheimer. “This is essential for the national security, health and welfare. The journal played a role in my receiving a U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at the White House, January 2010.”
The abstracts submitted by these students cover a variety of subjects. For instance, A. Murthy and G. Zem (teacher) from Ernest Lawrence Gifted/Highly Gifted Magnet wondered what sense has the best memory? To find out, participants were given a series of five tests, each one pertaining to one sense. They were then subsequently given the same test five times each. Overall, the results were that touch and smell were the most reliable while sight and sound were the most unreliable senses.
Jessica Aquintey, also from Ernest Lawrence Gifted/Highly Gifted Magnet, tackled the infamous “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” The conclusion to her experiment? There is no absolute answer to the question, as she pointed out because “it just depends on how fast you lick the Tootsie Roll Pop, how much pressure you put with each lick, and how much time is taken with each lick.”
Not all the abstracts that are published are successes. The journal is designed to spark an interest in science among students, but also helps classes learn what it is to have a good experiment and abstract versus a not-so-good experiment and abstract, Oppenheimer said.
Oppenheimer has received accolades for his encouragement of young people to consider a career in the sciences.
Oppenheimer received a Ph.D. from John Hopkins University. He is the author and co-author of roughly 200 publications, has been awarded more $7 million in research and science education grants, and served on National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation grant review panels. He’s been a recipient of numerous distinguished teaching awards, research awards, outstanding professor awards and other honors from local, statewide and national organizations.