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Barnes, Dillon excel at UAH science fair

What are the odds? Spencer Barnes and Alex Dillon rated in the top four among 500 competitors.

Barnes or Dillon could easily calculate the answer.

These Liberty Middle School students earned top honors with their science projects at the North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the University of Alabama in Huntsville last month.

Barnes’ experiment uses a test table composed “from an orthogonal array to perform an analysis of the best combination of model rocket parts.” He used only nine experiments for all combinations of two fin shapes; three, four or six fins; three engine types; and three nose cone lengths.

“This analysis saves money and time in determining the best and worst combinations of parts for maximizing the highest altitude,” Barnes said.

“The best combination is a long nose cone, three triangular fins, and either of the C engines,” he said. “The worst combination is a medium length nose cone, six trapezoidal fins and the B engine.”

Hearing the winners’ names, Barnes was “surprised and kind of confused — like they must have written down the wrong name. Then, I thought it was pretty awesome that I was up there with Alex.”

Alex Dillon designed “MyPad Tablet, Powered by Fusion OS” by custom building a tablet computer. His device is “a cost-effective alternative to iOS- and Android-based tablets,” Dillon said.

“It runs a custom user interface that I called ‘Fusion’ on top of a Windows XP base. It comes with several apps that I developed that provide email, mobile productivity, Internet and gaming functions,” Dillon said.

Eighth-grade science teachers Carla Beardslee and Amy Lyons coordinated the projects. Condor Solutions Inc. with CEO Alan Petroff served as corporate sponsor for the Liberty science exhibits.

Barnes and Dillon were invited to the Alabama Science and Engineering Fair, along with their peers Kimberly Waggener, Skyler Laney, Grace Barnes, Preston Lamb and Tucker Pearson.

The state fair will be held at UAH in Spragins Hall gymnasium on April 6. The public can view projects from 3 to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit asef.uah.edu.

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