What I learned on the first morning of this year’s citywide Science Fair as judges visited 235 exhibits mounted by public-school students from pre-K through 12 grade:
• Brand marketing works. So discovered Clinton Avenue School eighth-graders Antoinette Millington and Leachmi Rivera (pictured above). For their science experiment this year, they filled one set of cups with Coca-Cola, a second set with ... Coca-Cola. But they didn’t tell that to their test subjects. Instead they pretended the second set was generic store-brand cola. They poured some real Coca-Cola into a generic store-brand bottle and placed it by that second set of cups. Then they had students taste both sets and choose their favorite. Seventeen of 20 fourth-graders chose the cups marked Coca-Cola. So did 13 out of 20 third-graders.
Antoinette and Leachmi, by the way, drink Sprite. The name brand.
• Dunkin Donuts cups keep hot chocolate hotter than mugs or other cups. Seventh-grader Marlin Ritter of Brennan Rogers School discovered that.
• Girls have better memories than boys do. Jepson middle-schoolers Brenda Lituma and Emma Wilcox hypothesized as much before they started their experiment. Then they had a visitor come to a classroom. After the visitor left, they asked students questions: What did visitor wear? DId the visitor bring or leave anything? And guess what—it’s true. The females remembered more information than the men did. Lituma and Wilcox came across some possible explanations, including the fact that the female hippocampus is larger than the male hippocampus and the female brain has a 25 percent bigger corpus callosum, which bridges the brain’s two hemispheres.
The judges Tuesday morning swept through the booths at the science fair, which as usual is taking place inside Yale’s Commons (newly slated to become a $150 million Kennedy Center-like arts center) at Grove and Prospect streets. The fair opened to the general public from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday; public viewing will continue Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. An awards ceremony will take place across the street at Sheffield Sterling Strathcona Hall Wednesday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. No word on whether real Coke, or the generic stuff, will be served.