KAMS Junior from Republic to Present Research in Topeka by Patrick Vulgamore

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On February 11, Brie Little and four others represented Fort Hays State University (FHSU) by presenting their respective research at the Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. Little, from Republic, Kansas, is currently a high school junior in her second semester at the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) at FHSU.

Based on data from the National Trends Network, Little's research considered a correlation between the PH levels of precipitation in the state of Washington and the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens.

"Volcanoes emit a lot of gases," said Little, "and SO 2, or sulfur dioxide, is one of the main gases they emit. It's also one of the main causes of acid rain."

Little's research began as a project for her geoscience class. Since then, it has traveled to Topeka for a science-fair style presentation to state representatives and the public. Only five students from each Kansas Board of Regents Institution may present at the capitol, and this year, three of FHSU's presenters are in the KAMS program.

"I was able to explore the capitol and tell representatives why my research is important," Little said. "The structure was very personalized, so I would address one or two people at a time. It was a fun experience."

Little has also applied for two additional competitions, including the Kansas Science Fair on February 28 and the Junior Sciences Humanities Synopsis at Oklahoma State on March 6 and 7.

 

 

KAMS Senior Accepted to Present Research in Topeka by Patrick Vulgamore

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For the second year in a row, MaRyka Smith, KAMS senior out of Hoyt, Kansas, was selected to attend the Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. On Wednesday, February 11, Smith and four others represented Fort Hays State University in Topeka by presenting their respective research.

Smith's research project, entitled "Myth Vs. Fact: Misconceptions Between Consumers and Midwestern Producers," compares the average person's knowledge of animal agriculture to that of someone with a background in agriculture.

"Out of the 180 respondents to my survey, about half had backgrounds in agriculture," said Smith. "I then compared the percent correct from each group and found a significant statistical difference in knowledge of animal agriculture."

Smith's data indicated a startling lack of agricultural knowledge among average people. She found that some of the respondents believed even the most shocking myths, such as this particularly disturbing idea surrounding chocolate milk.

"It's frustrating to see how some people believe ridiculous misconceptions," Smith said, "like that chocolate milk contains chocolate only to hide blood in the milk. Some people actually believe that.

"It is only natural that Smith chose this topic to research, as she grew up in rural Hoyt, tending horses and actively participating in 4-H.

"Agriculture and food sustainability are all very important to me, and it's sad when I see people on social media with huge misconceptions about agriculture."

This is not the first time Smith has participated in Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. Last year, she presented her research on the correlation between the grasslands of the Sierra Nevada ecoregion and the rising number of California mustangs. Her research earned third place at the State Science Fair, which she plans to revisit this year with her new research.

As a student of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Smith has a bright future ahead of her. She has already been accepted to Kansas State University, where she will complete her prerequisites for veterinary school in just one year.

"I recommend KAMS to all the underclassmen at my high school. The research opportunities alone will make getting into veterinary school that much easier."

Only five students from each Kansas Board of Regents Institution can be accepted to the Research Day at the Capitol, and this year, three of FHSU's candidates are in the KAMS program.

"I thought science fairs were just in the movies. Then I come to KAMS and get gold at regionals and third at state. And if not for KAMS, I wouldn't have even been considered for the Research Day at the Capitol."

 

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