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Jewish Journal

Four Pressman Academy Students at State Science Fair

by Melanie Reynard

May 4, 2010 | 5:53 pm

What is the effect of caffeine on plant growth?  How does fat content in ice cream affect the rate at which 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 have been invited to the 59th annual California State Science Fair, which takes place May 17-18. They were invited after competing in the Los Angeles County Science Fair Junior Division, in which 709 students from more than 100 schools 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 L.A. 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 participate in the school’s science fair. The school sent 12 projects to the L.A. County fair, six of which became finalists. Four, including Mendelsohn’s, qualified to advance to the California State Science Fair, hosted by the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

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