When seventh-graders Lauren Linnebur and Malayne Perry were considering topics for their science fair project at Liberty Middle School, they wanted to choose something that was relevant to people their age. So they decided to expand on a topic Linnebur had studied the year before: student health literacy and snack consumption. Linnebur had previously studied that issue from the perspective of sixth-grade girls and boys. This year, the two young scientists widened the scope of their project to include students in both elementary and middle school.
They defined health literacy as “the ability to understand health information that your doctor gives you” and drafted a six-question survey that was distributed through science teachers to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students at Liberty, and to fifth-graders at the elementary schools that feed into Liberty.
“We asked school, gender, grade, if they had taken a health course in sixth or seventh grade, if they bought snacks and if so, what snacks they bought,” Linnebur said.
All of the surveys were anonymous to protect student privacy.
The girls ended up with 462 usable surveys that they analyzed using an industry-accepted health literacy assessment tool called Newest Vital Sign (NVS).
“It was basically taking the health literacy of students from fifth to eighth grade and comparing their health literacy scores to their snack purchases, to see if health knowledge is applied when buying snacks,” Perry said.
The girls had hypothesized that a higher health literacy score would translate in to healthier snack purchases, but they discovered their hypothesis was wrong.
“We found that students are health literate but they did not apply their health knowledge to buying snacks at school,” the girls said. Their survey results showed that students chose snacks such as cookies and chips far more often than they chose fruit and vegetables.
As part of their analysis, Linnebur and Perry used a statistical tool to calculate the P-value, or the significance, of their results. Their project earned them second place in the Junior Division, Medicine and Health Category, of the 2017 Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held Feb. 16-17, as well as the 2017 Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, held April 6-8 at Colorado State University. They placed higher than any other Liberty students in the school’s history and qualified for the national Broadcom MASTERS competition, which could take them to Washington D.C.
At the state fair, Liberty Science teacher Dr. Lorry Getz was named Colorado Science and Engineering Fair Teacher of the year. (See related story.)
Perry, who plans to become a theoretical physicist, and Linnebur, who loves math and science but isn’t sure yet what career she wants to pursue, both encourage other students to participate in science fair programs.
“Try it!” Linnebur said. “I did it in sixth grade because it was required and then I found that I really liked it.”
Linnebur and Perry are among hundreds of Cherry Creek School District students who participated in the Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair and the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair this year. Congratulations to these top award winners:
Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Best in Show, Senior Division:
• 1st: Hari Sowrirajan – Cherry Creek High School
• 3rd: Aubrey Berger – Eaglecrest High School
Get complete results from the Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
Colorado Science and Engineering Fair: Best CSEF Project, Senior Division
Best CSEF Project – Senior Division
• 1st: Isani Singh – Cherry Creek High School
• 5th: Aubrey Berger – Eaglecrest High School
Get complete results from the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair.