Local student wins regional science fair

Published 8:18 pm Saturday, April 11, 2009

This time last year, Carrington Wentz had finished work on his seventh-grade science project, in which he compared stain removers.

This year, Wentz has been busy collecting awards for his work in figuring out which chemical leads to the fastest decomposition of water.

Even he recognizes it was a bit of a leap.

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“It’s a very complex topic. I knew it was much better than the experiments I’ve done before,” he said. “It took a lot of work.”

Wentz, who lives in Riverview, is an eighth-grader at Norfolk Christian School. His parents are Anne Cabel Wentz and Richard Wentz.

As part of the middle school science program, students at Norfolk Christian are required to submit a project for the school’s science fair.

After studying about decomposition in his physical science class, Wentz decided to take his scientific work to the next level. He tested how quickly sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, magnesium sulfate and sodium hydroxide would decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Wentz’s project took first place in the chemistry field at his school’s science fair. From that win, Wentz’s project was forwarded along to the 58th Annual Tidewater Science Fair, sponsored by the Tidewater Science Congress Inc. and Old Dominion University.

In order to compete there, Wentz had to further his work by preparing a verbal presentation to give to the more than 15 judges he would meet during the fair, and he had to rework his project to meet the fair’s specifications.

Wentz was one of 18 students competing in his division, and there were more than a dozen different divisions in the fair.

Against the best of the best from around Hampton Roads, Wentz came in first in the chemistry junior division. Additionally, he won an American Chemical Society, Hampton Roads Section, Special Award of $50 for his work.

“It was fun,” Wentz said. “It was time consuming and nerve wracking, but it was fun. I learned what I could do when I set my mind to it. I wouldn’t think I could have done this, but I did.”

Wentz’s teachers were equally impressed with Wentz’s performance.

“Since this is only my second year associated with the regional fair, I was not sure how stiff the competition would be in his category,” John Gorman, the science teacher at Norfolk Christian who forwarded the NCS student’s project to the fair, wrote in an email to the News-Herald. “I felt he had a solid, straight-forward project that was well documented and displayed, and I knew that he had prepared himself regarding his verbal presentation, so I guess I wasn’t surprised, but I was extremely pleased that his hard work was rewarded with recognition.”

Wentz said he is now more optimistic about a future career in the science world.

“Now, I guess I could do something in science or in the medical field, which I always thought I wanted to do,” he said. “Now, I kind of like science.”