Science Fairs Gain New Life at ODA


When you hear the word science fair, most likely, the image of volcanoes, explosions and geeks comes to mind first. However for one ODA student, that is not the case.

Science fairs are still a part of our science department here. Currently, freshman Mackenzie Grace is not showing how lava flows down a volcano, but rather an experiment related to psychology. She is conducting the project on her own, but Science Department Head, Ms. Beeman, is her faculty sponsor.

This is not Mackenzie’s first project. She was involved in science fairs throughout middle school. In seventh grade, she was achieved such a level of success, that she and her project  went to the county level and earned a rating of “excellent.” By eighth grade, she made it to county and won first place in her category!

This year, as a freshman at ODA, Mackenzie is conducting an experiment on the teenage brain and how it is affected by smell. Her question is “What are the effects of smell on a teenager’s memory?

She wanted to test the theory of whether or not coffee would induce better results because people utilize the caffeine in it everyday.

When asked what piqued her interest in this topic, Mackenzie said “I’m really interested in psychology, specifically memory, and this was a great opportunity to learn more about it firsthand.”

Her actual experiment involved showing selected Freshmen at ODA a series of ten playing cards and then having them write down as many as they could in order. She repeated this four times while using a diffuser for the smells. The smells used include: lavender, coffee, a citrus blend, and no smell as the control group. She chose these smells because lavender is supposed to be soothing, coffee is a stimulant, and the citrus blend was something sweet.

In testing, results showed that the lavender trial actually proved the best results, which is contrary to her theory.

She will be attending the Sarasota County Science Fair on January 29 in the behavioral sciences category and if she wins her category, she will move on to states!

Next year, Mackenzie plans on doing another project related to psychology that will test the brain as well because she is very interested in the subject.