Jewish Journal


May 25, 2010

Four Pressman Academy Students at State Science Fair


What is the effect of caffeine on plant growth? How does fat content in ice cream affect the rate that it melts? What is the effect of phototropism on gravitropism in plants? Which foods are best to eat when taking aspirin or other NSAID medications? These questions were addressed in science projects by four students at Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am, a Conservative Jewish day school. The students were invited to the 59th annual California State Science Fair, which took place May 17-18, after competing in the Los Angeles County Science Fair Junior Division, where more than 100 schools and 709 students participated.

Ariel Mendelsohn, a seventh-grader at Pressman Academy, heard that her mom’s friends got stomach ulcers from taking medications when they didn’t eat beforehand, leading her to explore which foods are best to eat before taking medicine. Mendelsohn mixed artificial gastric juice in four different samples with different medications and food. Then, she measured pH balance with an electronic tester.

“It turns out protein is the best,” Mendelsohn said. “The goal is to reduce the acidity, and the protein was the most successful.” She won third place in the pharmacology division at the LA County Fair.

“I’ve learned that I am a lot more interested in medication than I was,” Mendelsohn said. “I’ve wanted to tell my doctors what I found out. I’d always asked them, and they said they didn’t know. Then I just did it.”

All students at Pressman Academy participated in the school’s science fair. The school sent 12 projects to the L.A. County fair; six became finalists, and four, including Mendelsohn, qualified to advance to the California State Science Fair, hosted by the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

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