Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany --
When Nicholas Haliday, an 8th grader at St. Teresa Catholic School in Albany, Ga., wanted to gather data for his school Science Fair competition, all he had to do was get the 40 students in the middle school to watch a movie.
The only condition was that they had to watch the movie while taking a math test.
“I wanted to test multi-tasking and how it affected a person’s performance on taking a written test,” said Haliday, son of Col. and Mrs. C.N. Haliday, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. “Multi-tasking is a relevant topic because more and more people are doing it.”
With raw data in hand, Haliday crunched the numbers to draw conclusions from his research.
“There was a small drop in the performance between the control group, which took just the math test, and the experimental group, which took the math test while they watched a movie,” Haliday said. “So, it isn’t a good idea to watch a movie while you’re doing your homework.”
After completing his work, Haliday entered his project in the 37th Annual Darton College/Merck Regional Science Fair in Albany, Ga., and took first place in his category.
The next stop for his project was the 61st Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, held in Athens, Ga.
“I won first place at the state competition in psychology and behavioral science and also received a special award in behavioral science from the American Psychological Association,” said Haliday, who sports a 4.0 grade point average.
Science fair projects can be time consuming for both contestants and their family.
“This year’s project wasn’t as time consuming as last year’s when Nick grew plants at home and measured the Ph in the soil to determine how it affected the growth of plants,” said Anne Haliday, Nick’s mother. “This one was basically dealing with the subjects for one day, but he had to do all the research and preparation.”
Anne said she knew from an early age that Nick was interested in science.
“When he was in sixth grade, he asked me for a subscription to Popular Science. Now, he gets American Scientist and reads National Geographic magazine from cover to cover as soon as it comes in,” she said.
Three other St. Teresa Catholic School students, Trey Hardison, who worked with aerodynamics; Maggie Greene, who worked on a bio-gas generator; and Nathan Greene, who worked on bio-mass conversion; all had winning projects for the school science fair and placed in state competition as well.
“I’m a huge proponent of this type of competition because they don’t just read science and take notes. They must do their own experiments and do the tests themselves,” said Dr. Dorene Medlin, science teacher, at St. Teresa. “That way, they apply what they learned in my class.”
Medlin told the students to come up with their own topic, for her approval, for the nine-week project.
“I didn’t look over their shoulder when they did their projects, but I was there if they needed me. I don’t take any credit for their work. They did their own work,” she said.
Haliday sees himself pursuing natural sciences more than behavioral studies in the future and described a bonus from his project as learning that “working with people is disorganized because trying to organize people can be difficult.”