ALTON — Out of nearly 300 students participating in the SIUE Science and Engineering Research Challenge, fifth-grader Abbie Hasty was the lone elementary school student representing Alton.
Thankfully, the recipient of a blue ribbon and Best of Category for Chemistry trophy kept her cool.
“I was a little nervous because I felt like the rest of the district was relying on me to do well,” Abbie, 10, says. “I also knew that people were already proud of me, so that helped me not be so nervous.”
The SERC, an event allowing students to showcase their scientific experiments, was held on March 28 at SIU Edwardsville’s Meridian Ballroom. Only the finest projects from students in grades 5 through 12 were on display. Abbie’s award-winning project was called the Rust Race.
“She was trying to determine what liquid would rust a nail the fastest,” Abbie’s mother, Jeanna Hasty, says. “She used tap water, salt water, vinegar, bleach and Sprite.”
Abbie monitored each submerged nail daily and kept a record of her observations. Every race must have a winner, and in the case of the Rust Race, it was bleach.
The presentation at the SERC was the final leg of Abbie’s own race. She first entered a local science fair last winter and due to her success, she was selected to advance to the regional level.
The SERC participants were required to join the Illinois Junior Academy of Science in order to be involved. The purpose of the challenge was to take advantage of their natural curiosity, stimulate their imagination and encourage independent critical thinking. Students came from a 10-county area, competing in two divisions. The junior division comprised grades 5 through 8, while the senior division was for grades 9 through 12.
The daylong event included multiple presentations where Abbie had to present full details of her project and her findings to various judges. On her own for three hours, she shared with her mother her trick to keeping nervousness at bay.
“She said she just kept telling herself not to worry, to just do her best, and kept trying to remember how to pronounce ‘oxidation’ the right way,” Jeanna says.
During the morning judging, Abbie won a first-place blue ribbon. In the second round of judging, when Abbie found herself facing off with middle school students, she won the Best of Category award.
With the success of this year’s challenge, Abbie says she is looking forward to competing in the district fair again in hopes to be selected for next year’s SERC.
Outside of her research, Abbie is active at Cornerstone Church in Bethalto. Her school activities include chorus, honors orchestra and the Alton Junior Youth Symphony. Although she has not decided on one particular career just yet, she is excited to start her new journey as an Alton Middle School student in the fall.
“I’m just focused on doing my best in school so I can get lots of scholarships for college,” she says.