UTICA — Utica High School students Hannah Brubaker and Jacob Hart did very well in the recent state Science Day. Hart earned a Superior rating and Brubaker brought home an Excellent rating and a scholarship award.
Hart said getting a superior the first time he ever went to state Science Day was great. “I worked hard on my project and it feels good to have that work recognized,” he said. “I feel that it was an accomplishment to get a superior at such a high level science fair. ... State science day was a great experience for me and I would recommend it to anybody who has the opportunity to go.”
Hart’s project compared the relative merits of alpaca manure and chicken manure as a fertilizer. Asked how he came up with that research idea, he said, “My family and I raise alpacas. Although they are best known for producing their fine, luxurious fiber, they also produce nutrient-rich manure that makes excellent fertilizer. I thought it would be interesting to compare it to chicken manure, another common natural fertilizer.”
The tomato plants Hart grew for his project preferred the alpaca manure to the chicken manure. Anecdotal evidence indicates other plants like alpaca manure, too.
“Many of our neighbors use our alpaca manure for fertilizing their gardens and really like what it does for their plants,” Hart said. “It has a lower nitrogen content than chicken manure and doesn’t need to be composted before use.”
Like Hart, Brubaker has never been to a state science fair before. “It was definitely an experience,” she said. “It was also a lot of work just getting there and fixing the things I had done wrong in my project.”
Brubaker’s project involved a study of the effects of extra protein in a chick’s diet. The result? “The protein’s effect on the chick is a good one,” Brubaker said, “but it doesn’t make much difference in the weight. At least, not the amount I was giving them.”