Billings Science Expo Awards

  Four Spartan scientists competed at the Billings Science Expo Mar. 27-28 and all returned with substantial awards.

By Linda Rost


l-r: Emalee Thurlow, Autumn Law and Megan Slagter
l-r: Emalee Thurlow, Autumn Law and Megan Slagter
Shaylyn Huelle
Shaylyn Huelle

This fair included 415 students from 60 schools. Shaylyn Huelle, a student in the science research class, took her project on cattle herding behaviors. Emalee Thurlow, Megan Slagter and Autumn Law also competed and are not members of the science research class, but worked this semester during their study halls, before and after school, and gave up their lunch breaks to complete sophisticated and well-designed experiments.

   All four students were awarded top prizes in their categories. Shaylyn placed first in the 12th grade division and received the top placing in all grades. She also received two $1,000 scholarships as prizes. Megan and Autumn placed third in tenth grade and also impressed the judges with their vast knowledge of the topic. Emalee was ranked fourth in tenth grade and received excellent feedback from judges who specialized in the field. She also met with a forensic scientist, which is the career she is pursuing, who advised her on classes and majors. All three also received cash prizes.

   Shaylyn’s project showed that cattle tend to form the same groupings over multiple gatherings, and the cattle who come in first during gathering have a faster velocity than those that come in later.

   Megan and Autumn investigated whether the human heart can synchronize with another heart. They successfully recruited 30 test subjects from different age groups and tested them using an ECG machine that detects the intricacies of the heartbeat. Each subject listened to recordings of heartbeats at different tempos, and heart rates of the subjects were evaluated. They found that overall the heart rates did synchronize, but they saw more of an effect in the middle age group (age 18-39). This can be used to predict factors that affect heart rate, and the use of heart sounds to treat heart problems.

   Emalee researched whether various volatile organic hydrocarbons settled according to their respective densities in a mixture. She tested methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, and acetone. She found that these hydrocarbons did aggregate, but not according to their densities. Instead, they aggregated according to their molar masses. This research can be used to determine how these compounds behave in toxic spills, as well as how they interact with other chemicals in industrial and household uses.

   Baker High School was very well represented at this prestigious regional fair, and students look forward to participating in this event again. Students enrolled in the Science Research class, facilitated by Linda Rost, work to prepare projects for this and other competitions.

   Students were chaperoned by Nikki Slagter and Cori Thurlow. Costs for this trip were paid for by a very generous grant from the Billings section of the Society for Petroleum Engineers.