Young Scientists Think Outside the Box

Emerging scientists from three counties took part in the Ohio District 13 Science Day competition hosted by Kent State University at Tuscarawas on Saturday, March 4. Middle school and high school students from Carroll, Stark and Tuscarawas counties participated in the competition and displayed their knowledge and passion for various areas of science. District 13 Science Day is under the umbrella of the Ohio Academy of Science, the leading organization in Ohio advancing the understanding and practice of science, engineering and technology.

This year marked the return of in-person Science Day events for the 17 districts in Ohio following virtual events held during COVID-19. The Ohio Academy of Science ( is focused on encouraging the discovery, understanding, dissemination and practice of education, science, mathematics, engineering, technology and their applications, with a mission of fostering curiosity, discovery, innovation and problem-solving skills in Ohio.

“We were honored to host the Science Day competition and to provide a venue for young scientists from three counties to share their knowledge and skills,” said event organizer Laurie Donley, Kent State Tuscarawas director of enrollment management and student services. “We were also happy to provide students and their families the opportunity to explore the campus, to be creative in our Makerspace, and to have hands-on experiences with several of our excellent College of Applied and Technical Studies programs, including engineering technology, vet tech and nursing.”

Creative Thinking Comes Naturally

Twelve-year-old Julianne Liliestedt (who was quick to point out that she is almost 13) entered the competition because she was looking for a new challenge.

“I was in the National Spelling Bee last year, but didn’t place this year. I wanted to do something similar but different,” said Liliestedt, a student at Canton Country Day School.

OAS participant

Her project, titled “How Does Changing the Background Color of an Image Affect the Mood Implied by That Image,” hit close to home, as Liliestedt lives with synesthesia, a neurological condition where information that’s meant to stimulate only one of your senses stimulates several.

“I’ve always been interested in color and pictures and emotions,” Liliestedt said. “And also, I have synesthesia – where your senses connect. I can taste pain – it feels really weird! I associate colors with different days of the week, month and with different seasons.”

Liliestedt said she hoped to advance to the state competition with her project. During the presentation of awards, her hopes came true as she received a Superior rating and will move on to the State Science Day held in Columbus in May.

Impacting Daily Life

When deciding on a science project, Isabella Bennett, 12, a seventh grader from East Canton Middle School, looked for two things – something that would be creative and something that could benefit everyone. Her project was titled “Color Theory” and investigated the depths of color.

“I chose this because I wanted to do something creative,” Bennett said. “I was trying to think outside of the box, something you don’t think about as much as you should. Something that will impact your daily life and be beneficial to everyone, especially for those with color blindness.”

Bennet’s experience with the competition left her feeling that the judges were engaging – they interacted with her and made her feel comfortable. 

OAS participant

“I think this is a great experience and I would do it again,” she said.

Perception of Taste

Madalyn Lake, 15, and Avery Horning, 15, both sophomores at Alliance High School, joined forces for a team project titled “Gorgalicious Flavors.”

While the name of the project was meant to be fun and memorable, the project assessed human perception.

“We tested whether or not the color of a drink affects the way humans perceive the taste of a beverage,” said Lake. “Forty test subjects participated.”

Horning explained that they used two different flavors of Propel clear drinks for the experiment.

“One was cherry flavored and one berry flavored,” she said. “We tinted the cherry flavored drink with either red or blue coloring, and the berry with green and purple colorings.”

OAS participants

While not offering any prompts or flavor choices, their theory proved correct when “more than half of the participants were right when it came to the red cherry flavor, but many thought the blue tasted bad.”

Lake and Horning also received a Superior rating and will be advancing to the State Science Day. 

Helping Hunters

Twelve-year-old Owen Boyle is a hunter who wants to help others become more effective hunters.

The seventh-grader at East Canton Middle School titled his project “Broadheads.” His goal was to study the effectiveness and penetration done by broadheads used for hunting deer with a bow and arrow.

“I tested five brand types, looking for the best for hunting,” said Boyle.

Boyle hopes to help hunters within the state of Ohio become more effective in their 

OAS participant


“There are inexperienced hunters who go out and hunt and animal and leave it wounded,” he said. “By understanding the effects of broadheads, they would learn to be more effective in their hunting.”

Superior Ratings

The following participants received Superior ratings during the Ohio District 13 Science Day held at Kent State Tuscarawas and have the opportunity to compete at the state level in Columbus in May:

  • Ava Foss, East Canton Middle School: “Impact of Colored VR Environments on Physical Characteristics”
  • Jenna Heslop, Alliance High School: “The Effects of pH on Microbes”
  • Avery Horning and Madalyn Lake, Alliance High School: “Gorgalicious Flavors”
  • Julianne Liliestedt, Canton Country Day School: “How Does Changing the Background Color of an Image Affect the Mood Implied by That Image”
  • Brinley Mann, Alliance Middle School: “Shocking Vegetables”
  • Eva Miller, Alliance High School: “Feeding Behavior of Dark-eyed Juncos in Ohio in Relation to Temperature”
  • Mackenzie Susor, Jackson Memorial Middle School: “The Effects of Sleep on Mathematics”

The following scholarship awards were presented: Akron Section of the American Chemical Society Award, Kent State Tuscarawas Emerging Scholar Award, Kent State Tuscarawas Emerging Scientist Award, Ohio College Advantage 529 Award, Ohio Soybean Bioscience Award, Ohio Water Environment Award, and Stark County Dental Society Award.

“Thanks to the parents, teachers and of course, the students for sharing their research and participating in our inaugural Ohio Science Day event,” Donley said. “We also appreciate the faculty and staff who helped make this event a success.”

Science Day sponsors included Kent State Tuscarawas, Ohio’s 529 College Advantage, OWEA, Stark County Dental Society, Stark County Ohio Gem & Mineral Club, ACS Local Section Akron, and Ohio Soybean Farmers.

For more information about Ohio District 13 Science Day, visit

POSTED: Tuesday, March 7, 2023 02:42 PM
Updated: Monday, March 13, 2023 04:18 PM
Kent State Tuscarawas