Britton Middle School eighth grader Ben Hayes was looking for a good reason to get dirty and play down by the creek. So when it was time to decide on his science project for Britton’s annual competition, he knew exactly what to do.

“I wanted an excuse to go down to the creek more and find bugs and stuff,” said the 13-year-old Morgan Hill student who was one of 141 entrants in the 2018 Britton Eighth Grade Science Fair. “I knew I could turn it into my science project.”

Britton Middle School eighth grader Ben Hayes took first place at the 2018 science fair Dec. 13.

Hayes not only turned his insect passion into his project—titled “Creek Stew”—but his experiment was a blue ribbon winner in the Biology category.

“I wanted to figure out what velocity of water flow would generate the most bugs,” explained Hayes, whose findings proved that a water flow of .13 to .16 meters per second gathered the most bugs. He found 180 insects in all and put most of them back. (Wink, wink.)

“I thought the slowest velocity would have the most bugs, but it actually was the worst because the water was stagnant and did not have a lot of oxygen,” said Hayes of his hypothesis. “The faster velocity was too fast and it was all rocky and the bugs were swept away.”

Hayes was one of seven first-place winners and among 28 classmates to earn science fair ribbons Dec. 13 inside the packed Britton gymnasium, where they displayed their projects and explained them to anyone who asked.

“I’m really impressed with all the hard work the students put in. There is a range of difficulty in the projects, but all of them put a lot of effort in,” said Britton science teacher Jim Levis.

The projects were started in October and students had two and a half months to come up with their ideas and conduct their experiments, Levis added.

Competing in the Botany category, partners Emily Lopez and Marcus Chambless earned a blue ribbon for their project titled “Sugar vs. Water: The Ultimate Showdown.” The winning duo watered plants twice a day over a two-week span, each with different ratios of sugar content in the water to see if it affected their growth rate.

“Our hypothesis was the sugar would help the plant grow because they already produce glucose,” said Lopez. “But we were proven wrong. They all died except the one with the lowest amount of sugar.”

Other 2018 blue ribbon winners, who will move on to the citywide Science Fair at Britton next month, were: Grace Quadrini and MaKenzie Mendonca (Chemistry); Reese Byers (Physics); Francisco Flores and Alegria Serrano (Behavioral); Ria Deshphande and Lexxa D’Amico (Engineering); and Sydney Stutzman (Earth/Environmental). A big crowd formed as student ribbon recipients were announced and loud applauses followed from fellow classmates, parents and other family.

Every Britton eighth grader must come up with a science project and present it in class, such as 14-year-old Nick Ruiz and his “Affordable Blueberry Solar Cells” experiment. Ruiz used a multimeter to test if a solar cell could be used to light people’s homes.

“It was kind of stepping out of my comfort zone,” said Ruiz of his science experiment for which he partnered with classmate Marcos Jimenez. “I liked the process. My prediction was different than the results. I thought it wasn’t going to work.”

Britton eighth grader DJ Henry turned to his passion for lacrosse and tested two different kinds of mesh netting to discover which was more durable when exposed to extreme climates in his project titled “Lacrosse Mesh I guess?!.” He put a hard mesh and a semi-hard mesh in an oven at 175 degrees fahrenheit and then in the freezer at 2 degrees fahrenheit.

“I thought the semi-hard mesh would be better because that’s what I use. …I found out that the hard mesh held up better (in extreme conditions),” said Henry, who has played lacrosse since he was 4 years old. “I’m not really a big science person, but I wanted to test which one was more durable.”


2018 Britton Middle School

Eighth Grade Science Fair Winners


1st: Grace Quadrini / MaKenzie Mendonca

2nd: Daniel Keating

3rd: Ryan Oselinsky / Derek Hernandez

Honorable Mention: Luna Fukumoto


1st: Reese Byers

2nd: James Tuttle

3rd: Michael Garcia

HM: Colin Will


1st: Francisco Flores / Alegria Serrano

2nd: Isabella Fredericks

3rd: Crystal Garcia

HM: Katherine Delaney / Rosie Cardenas


1st: Ria Deshphande / Lexxa D’Amico

2nd: Jake Ballard

3rd: Josh El-Shammaa

HM: Aiden Spencer


1st: Ben Hayes

2nd: Ryan Roberts / Kade Darman

3rd: Gianna Vallez / Maya Lamar

HM: Emma Brill / Maoni Napier


1st: Emily Lopez / Marcus Chambless

2nd: Paras Gandhi / Tyler Trapini

3rd: Alison Rothert

HM: Clara Perez / Layla Elderkin


1st: Sydney Stutzman

2nd: Morgan Woods / Anahi Berumen

3rd: Scotty Francis / Scott Diaz

HM: Katia Vaillancourt


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