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Eric Hazlett had great expectations for Crest Sparkling White.

The Dickinson Township youth knew the toothpaste brand had a formula that strengthened enamel while leaving an after shine.

He was confident Crest would rise above the competition in an experiment to test the whitening effects of four products on the market.

“I thought it would be interesting,” said Hazlett, 13, a seventh-grader at the Saint Patrick School. “It would be more relevant to the daily life of people.”

He was one of the 530 students in grades 4-12 registered to participate this past weekend in the 61st annual Carlisle Area Science Advisory Committee’s science fair.

Each student had to come up with a project name and concept, a hypothesis on the outcome, a procedure to experiment and test their theory, and a display that used a cardboard screen to show their work.

About 50 volunteer judges reviewed the entries and graded the work based on how well the student followed the scientific method and kept a log detailing their steps, data, observations and findings.

“It gives students a chance to demonstrate what they know,” said Allison Thumma, acting assistant principal of Wilson Middle School and a former seventh-grade science teacher.

“We want to do whatever we can to promote science in them,” she said. “Hopefully, they will choose to take such courses.”

The students were from every school in the Carlisle Area and South Middleton school districts. There were also youths from the Christian School of Grace Baptist Church, Saint Patrick School and Carlisle Christian Academy. Though open to home-school students, there were no entries this year from that demographic, Thumma said.

There are three divisions of competition based on grade level: elementary, fourth and fifth grades; junior – sixth through eighth; and senior, ninth through 12th. Ribbons are given out for first-, second- and third-place finishers and for participation.

The top three first-place finishers in each age category were named the grand champions during an award ceremony Saturday afternoon. Participating students were not present at the fair during judging Friday evening.

They set up their displays Friday afternoon either in the cafeteria or the gymnasium of the Swartz building of Carlisle High School. It was Eric Hazlett’s second time participating in as many years.

For his experiment titled “Sensational Smiles,” Hazlett soaked white porous tiles four 12 hours in four liquids: black coffee, red Kool-Aid, grape juice and Mountain Dew.

He then dried the stained tiles for about an hour before brushing each for a full minute using Crest Sparkling White, Colgate, Aquafresh or Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. He then rinsed off each tile and allowed it to air dry overnight.

Sure enough, with the exception of Colgate and grape juice, Crest was the top brand in getting rid of stains. Hazlett thought that Mountain Dew would produce the worst stains because the formula used in the soda was acidic to tooth enamel. Instead, black coffee produced the darkest stains.

Nearby, Alana McWilliams, a Carlisle High School sophomore, was putting the finishing touches on her display titled “Get the Lead Out.”

Like Hazlett, she tested the advertising claims of products on the market. In this case, the ability of Pur, Brita and Zero Water filter paper to remove lead from a solution of lead nitrate.

Last year, McWilliams did a similar experiment involving the ability of those products to filter out chlorine and heavy metals. Then as now, the Pur paper filter delivered the best results.

“I love science,” McWilliams said. “I want to be a microbiologist. I like putting in the effort for science fairs.”

Sam Benson, 10, a fifth-grader at LeTort Elementary School, experimented with the effects of colored light on plant growth. He took three similar sized Camille plants. He placed one in a cardboard box under a red light, one in a box under a blue light and a third under normal light as a control.

He allowed the three plants to grow for two weeks taking measurements every other day. The plant under the blue light grew three inches while the plant under the red light grew only an inch. The plant under normal sunlight grew 1.5 inches.

The experiments covered a broad range of topics from the lung capacity of athletes to how plant life affects water quality in LeTort Creek to how felines of different ages respond to the euphoric effects of catnip.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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News Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.