Grove High School freshman Hannah Pagels recently won first place at the Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, in Miami, for her project “Contraceptive Conundrum,” moving her on to the state and international competitions over the next two months.
“I am very excited about having won the NEO fair and I am looking forward to the upcoming competitions. Everyone has been so supportive of me and the job that I have done. I’m just really looking forward to representing Grove at the state and international level,” Pagels said.
Pagels project “Controceptive Conundrum” was a multigenerational study of exposure to birth control in Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly.
“I got the idea after my mom found an article in a magazine about hermaphroditic frogs. They believed the cause was estrogen and it got me interested in the effects of estrogen and I wanted to see if it effected other species in the same way,” Pagels said. “I am not allowed to use vertebrates so I decided to use the fruit fly. I was testing fruit flies in my project last year so I was familiar with them.”
According to her project, it was hypothesized that the population of female to male fruit fly’s would increase in successive generations as compared to the control group and that offspring produced were affected in the majority of exposed concentrations, resulting in less male, more female offspring and a number of flies of unknown sex. The highest concentration produced less female and more male offspring, this result was contrary to the other exposed groups.
Pagels tested three generations of fruit flies exposed to birth control pills over an eight month period.
The conclusion was that exposure to birth control in fruit flies does indeed affect reproduction rates.
As a freshman, Pagels said she did not expect to win top honors at the competition.
“I was very surprised that I won with this project,” she said. “I didn’t feel that my project was strong enough to win. I plan on expanding my research on this project for next year with more generations to study and a different hypothesis. I thought that I might win when next year rolls around but I didn’t think I would get it this year. I’m very proud. I am thankful to my mom, Lynn Pagels, my grandma Joy Huff, Keli Steen, Dr. Robert Thomas and Dr. David Huff who all helped me with my research. I could not have done so well without their help.”
Pagels mentor on the project was GHS biology instructor Keli Steen, who said that she was proud of her student and the program.
“Hannah’s success is a very nice surprise and reassures that we have a strong science program her in the Grove Public School system,” Steen said.
Pagels will attend the state competition in Ada, Okla., March 24-26, and the international competition in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8-13, 2011.