Science Fair Project: Cheating in School


Cheating in school: what does science tell us about why it happens … and how to prevent it?

That’s the subject of a new study by Society competitor Evelyn Bodoni — and her results show that positive peer pressure might hold the key to discouraging cheaters.

Bodoni, a middle school student at Challenge School in Denver, Colo., and a 2015 Broadcom MASTERS finalist, recruited a total of 68 students from her school in grades 5th through 8th and assigned 20 to a control group, and 16 students each to three experimental groups.

Each group took a test in a room where an unseen observer could watch them. Students knew that the test answers were on the back, but they were told not to turn over the test form.

First finding? “There is a lot of academic dishonesty occurring in [my] middle school,” said Bodoni, who reported that overall, “fifty-one percent of the students tested cheated.” And even though the control group had no incentive to cheat, 40 percent of them did so anyway.

But Bodoni was also interested in identifying specific behaviors or cues that, as she put it, she said, “enticed students to cheat, so that corrective preventive measures could be implemented.”

“The percentage of cheaters rose to 69 percent in the negative peer pressure test group and 81 percent in the reward test group,” she said.

On the other hand, only 19 percent of the students in Bodoni’s study cheated when they were exposed to positive peer pressure that discouraged cheating.

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dmrsefadminScience Fair Project: Cheating in School

Emhyr Subramanian – Broadcom MASTERS Finalist!



Project Title: Chitosanic Change: An Attempt to Create a Hydrophobic, Biodegradable, Super-Absorbent Polymer That Can Control, Extract, and Absorb Waste
Individual/Team Leader’s Name: Emhyr Subramanian
School & City: Challenge School, Denver
Sponsor’s Name: John Wiley
Category: Chemistry & Biochemistry Division: Junior
Abstract— The purpose of the project was to:
1. To test an existing super-absorbent polymer (SAP) on different environments.
2. To create a hydrophobic, biodegradable, SAP.
3. SAP should be able to be used in water filtration, organic pollutant cleanup, and spill control.
The existing SAP must be tested on organic waste in different water types. All samples were run through gas chromatograph. To create the biodegradable SAP, a base polymer must be crosslinked. Chitosan and DSP cross-linker were identified as the base materials.
In the testing of the SAP (non-biodegradable), the percentages of slick absorbed were 99.80% for seawater, 99.19% for stream water, and 97.75% for de-ionized water.
The SAP tested can be concluded to be an extremely effective solution to waste absorption and performs better in seawater than the other two tests, though not by much. Unfortunately, the SAP leaves a lot of residue after cleanup. Not being biodegradable, it can be consumed by aquatic life, thus harmful to the environment.
After extensive research, a polymer and cross-linker were identified and a super-absorbent polymer was created. Due to the expensive price tag of the materials, not enough biodegradable polymer could be created such that testing could occur.
Since the CAS 100 that was tested worked successfully and fit most predictions made, the hypothesis was accurate to a great degree and the experiment was a success.________________________________________________

Emhyr Subramanian, 8th Grade
Challenge School, Aurora, Colorado
A Study of Super-Absorbent Polymers and Their Effectiveness in Organic Waste Extraction

Project Background:  Large amounts of organic waste chemicals wind up in waterways every year, due to oil spills and other pollution. “Unfortunately, no current solutions exist that can treat this problem in an environmentally friendly and effective manner,” Emhyr reports. He decided to see if a commercially available super-absorbent polymer could efficiently remove organic waste from water. If this was possible, Emhyr wanted to develop a new polymer that could both complete that job and biodegrade afterwards.

Tactics and Results:  To begin, Emhyr tested whether a super-absorbent polymer really could remove organic waste chemicals from water. He mixed diesel oil into separate containers of de-ionized water, stream water and seawater to mimic oil spills. He followed a similar process with three different groups of soil, then he treated each experimental group with a commercially available product called CAS 100. The product repels water, but otherwise acts like a super-soaker: it can absorb other types of liquids by up to ten times its weight. In Emhyr’s tests, the CAS 100 worked well, as it absorbed almost all the waste from each experimental group of polluted water. He reasoned that the concept could work, at least with spills on water. Even so, those tests were inconclusive because the treatment product picked up chemicals from the soil. Next, Emhyr set out to develop a biodegradable super-absorbent polymer. He identified one promising compound, but unfortunately, one component cost too much for him to produce enough testing material. “The experiment was a partial success,” Emhyr concludes. He is now working with companies to get more of the component for future work.

Other Interests:  “I feel that if I were to become an environmental engineer, I could develop effective solutions to help solve climate change and change the world,” Emhyr says. “The two things I love the most are playing the violin and solving Rubik’s cube,” Emhyr adds. In addition to performing with the school orchestra, Emhyr regularly plays his violin at local farmers’ markets. His goal is to raise money for a nonprofit organization he started to provide solar energy to schools in Kerala, India.

dmrsefadminEmhyr Subramanian – Broadcom MASTERS Finalist!

CO-LABS & Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Honor Groundbreaking Scientists and Their Research


CO-LABS & Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Honor Groundbreaking Scientists and Their Research –
Annual Event Celebrates Colorado’s Top Scientists and Engineers for Projects Having a Significant Impact on Society
October 6, 2016 – Denver, CO – From the furthest reaches of space to the smallest quantum particles to measurements of atmospheric gases and assessment of human B cell antibodies – world-class research projects in these fields of study were celebrated at the CO-LABS 2016 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research event on October 6, 2016. Governor John Hickenlooper remarked about the profound “culture of discovery” within Colorado’s federal research labs and universities to the nearly 200 supporters of science gathered in the Ricketson Auditorium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

In its eighth year, the event gathers scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, business leaders and government officials with highlight videos, keynote speakers and a reception including the Museum’s compelling Space Odyssey exhibit. The event is supported by numerous sponsors, foremost being the Presenting Sponsor The Alliance for Sustainable Energy.


dmrsefadminCO-LABS & Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Honor Groundbreaking Scientists and Their Research

Broadcom MASTERS International 2016 Highlights


The Broadcom MASTERS International brings together the world’s brightest middle school students. Each delegate is chosen for their excellence in science, engineering and leadership. They are rising stars who come together to represent their nations for this international exchange.

dmrsefadminBroadcom MASTERS International 2016 Highlights

Evelyn Bodoni awarded 2015 Rising Stars Award


If you recall, we highlighted Evelyn Bodoni’s accomplishments in September.  Well, she made the trip to Silicon Valley, and came back a winner!  She was awarded the 2015 Rising Stars Award at the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS for her project on the prevalance and reasons for student cheating.

Each of the Rising Stars wins a trip to Intel ISEF, the world’s largest international high school science fair competition, in May 2016 as the United States delegate to Broadcom MASTERS International, in recognition of their work throughout the Broadcom MASTERS finals.

Click here for the official Broadcom MASTERS announcement.

Broadcom Masters 2015 Evelyn A. Bodoni at 2015 Broadcom Masters Broadcom Masters 2015 group

dmrsefadminEvelyn Bodoni awarded 2015 Rising Stars Award