Steamboat Springs Twelve-year-old Catherine Mann may be on her way to understanding the world since she recently made the connection that whiter teeth connote beauty.
Mann tried to convince volunteer judges Wednesday that Crest is the leading toothpaste for whitening teeth after demonstrating the results of her science fair experiment.
She showed judges six enameled, ceramic tiles that had been brushed with a different toothpaste. Crest, Colgate, Sensodyne, Opalescence, Arm and Hammer and "no toothpaste" each marked a different tile with a percentage of which whitened teeth the best.
Crest led the victory with 98.9 percent whitening, while "no toothpaste" finished last with 5.1 percent.
Mann wasn't the only one who experimented with toothpaste. She was competing with about 100 of her sixth-grade classmates who also might have the same project.
Steamboat Springs Middle School's auditorium was filled with about 310 projects for this year's science fair, compared to last year's 250. Row after row of science experiments demonstrated the scientific method with ideas from what is the best all-around cat food to which music increases work competency.
Kevin Ford, seventh-grade science teacher, said the increase in projects may be due to the increase in eighth-grade participation.
"Because we allow students to pair up for projects, it (science fair) actually represents over 400 projects," Ford said while looking out over the auditorium and smiling. "That's 80 percent of the student body."
Lisa Lorenz, eighth-grade science teacher, said she is clueless why there has been more participation of the upper class.
"Maybe it's because we're stressing a strong interest in science," Lorenz said. "But for eighth-graders, this (science fair) is optional and they do get extra credit for it."
Lorenz said many students have been participating in science fairs since elementary school, but along the way, they learn more and more independence.
"There are some inventions of things that could actually be produced," Lorenz said.
Creativity, data information and logicalness of a science project are the criteria judged by community volunteers. A maximum of 200 points can be allotted to a student by two judges designated for every project.
Heather Savalox, an employee for the environmental health department, was one of the many volunteer judges Wednesday whose boss told her to judge the science fair as part of her day's work.
"Environmental health has a lot to do with science," Savalox said. "The students and teachers are really excited. There's been a really good turnout."
Whether one's project was worth a certain colored ribbon for participation or another's worth the blue ribbon for the best project, all students are recognized for their creativity.
When the judges finish, the science teachers gather the evaluations and choose the top three from each grade to receive medals. Students in sixth grade compete with other students in sixth grade, and so on.
Eighth-grader Dustin Surprenant hopes he helped lead scientists to new breaking ground with his study of how music affects the appetite of mice.
Surprenant said he thought mice will eat more when classical music is playing because it's relaxing and calming. However, he found that because mice are night predators, they eat better when no music is present.
After a controlled feeding time after five days, Surprenant realized his hypothesis was not correct, although he wasn't far off.
"It was almost fun. It's a fun hands-on way to do science," he said.
Winners that were chosen by the judges at the science fair include the following:
In eighth-grade, Tim Mayhew won the gold medal, Stacey Cavanagh won the silver for her no-contact mouse trap invention and Andrew Zopf won the bronze for his test of bathroom germ contamination spread.
In seventh-grade, Nick Crislip won the gold medal for his memory test. Hanna Zittel tied with Andy White and partner Neil Ficker for the silver medal. Zittel's experiment was a sensory/memory test and White and Ficker's was a car crash test. Forrest Taft-Young tied with Lilia Pareketsovi for the bronze medal. Taft-Young's project was a light spectrum test and Pareketsovi's was an ESP test.
The sixth-grade results are to be announced later. The student choice awards also will be announced at a later date.