The science of color, energy and dog breath

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Staff photo by Cole Dittmer 

Wrightsville Beach School fourth graders Douglas Daniels, from left, David Mullany and Reese Peterken will represent WBS in the district science fair Thursday, Jan. 23, after placing third, first and second, respectively, at the WBS science fair.



How does potential energy relate to kinetic energy? What color crayon melts the fastest? What canine breath treats work the best? 

These were the questions addressed by the three winners of the annual Wrightsville Beach School Science Fair. 

First place finisher David Mullaney said his sister’s trip to art camp inspired him to explore the chemistry of color. His experiment of testing the melting point for each color crayon uncovered black and dark blue crayons melted the fastest.

“I decided to pick this topic because my sister did an art camp a few years before and she melted crayons so I used that for one of my props,” Mullaney said. “I think the black and dark blue melted fastest because crayons are made with color pigment and paraffin wax, and the darker colors absorb more heat.”

Second place finisher Reese Peterken said her dog Domino, a boxer/hound mix, piqued her interest in breath treats.

“One day I was petting my dog and playing outside with her, and then she had her tongue out while I was sitting down with her, and I smelled her breath and it smelled really bad,” Peterken said. “So I wondered what would make her breath smell better, and we got these different kinds of breath treats and each day we tested which one would work the best.”

The types of breath treats Peterken tested included Greenies, NutriDent and Dental Dog. While the Greenies treats were the most consistent she said the NutriDent treats worked best. 

“My mom helped me take pictures but I did most of the recording and smelling the breath, unfortunately,” she said. 

Using a marble, ramp and dowel rod, third place finisher Douglas Daniels alternated the height of the ramp to see how much the rolling marble would move the dowel rod at the end of the ramp. 

“I learned about potential and kinetic energy, because before the project I didn’t even know what potential and kinetic energy was,” Daniels said. “When it started to get too high the marble would bounce off and not make the dowel go as far.”

The furthest Daniels was able to move the dowel was 81 centimeters, and he said he would try different-sized marbles if he could do the experiment again. 

While each winner will not have a chance to rework his or her experiment, each will have the chance to win more accolades when all three show their projects at the district science fair with the other winners from New Hanover County schools on Thursday, Jan. 23. Select winners from that event will compete in the regional science fair competition in February at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 

All three of the winners from Wrightsville Beach School said they were excited going into the competition and expect to do well. 

email cole@luminanews.com


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