2nd Place Middle School Division: "Women Were Designed For Homemaking"
Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker.
Wow. Sexist is what this is. Granted he could have taken that statement from a bio book as it is fact that women are designed for childrearing, duh they have the organs, but come on how is this science at a middle school level. As for his examples; his physics example is just plain weak and not relevant and his social science is skewed beyond all belief as he is making a statement that was relevant in the 50s but has been blown out of the water since. It is interesting to me that I am very, very bothered at the fact that whoever wrote this description chose to say women workers are payed less than normal workers, opting not to use male where it would have made perfect sense to. I won't touch the exegetical reasoning aside to say that my personal belief in what the Bible says is different than what that student or the judges apparently believe.
1st Place High School Division: "Using Prayer To Microevolve Latent Antibiotic Resistance In Bacteria"
Eileen Hyde and Lynda Morgan (grades 10 & 11) did a project showing how the power of prayer can unlock the latent genes in bacteria, allowing them to microevolve antibiotic resistance. Escherichia coli bacteria cultured in agar filled petri dishes were subjected to the antibiotics tetracycline and chlorotetracycline. The bacteria cultures were divided into two groups, one group (A) received prayer while the other (B) didn't. The prayer was as follows: "Dear Lord, please allow the bacteria in Group A to unlock the antibiotic-resistant genes that You saw fit to give them at the time of Creation. Amen." The process was repeated for five generations, with the prayer being given at the start of each generation. In the end, Group A was significantly more resistant than Group B to both antibiotics.
This is a great example of a good combination of science and religion(as far as their ever could be a good mashup at least). Perfectly good hypothesis, methods, it is reproducible so the validity can be checked and I certainly would like to see a study done with a larger test group than two as variability is nill since it is a 50/50 shot that one group will outperform the other even assuming nothing provides an outside influence. As far as an experiment goes this was well chosen but could be improved upon. I think it would be interesting to increase the scale so we can gather a mean average between the groups and add an addistional group or two to help act as controls such as having one group receiving islamic prayers and another wiccan to see then which group has the highest mean. (For those against using other faiths and willing to reproduce the experiment another option would be to pray that one group doesn't unlock its resistance.)