By Greg Gelpi
It all started with a question.
Hitting the links may mean an afternoon of golf for some, but for Blake Clemons it means a science project.
Wondering which golf ball flies the farthest, he developed an experiment and improved his golf game.
Clemons, an eighth-grader at Lovejoy Middle School, placed first in physics at the Clayton County science fair and is one of four of the school's young scientists advancing to the state's science fair competition.
Jarrod Allen, first in botany, experimented with various types of fertilizer to determine the best kind to use. Chardae Hill, first in engineering, compared the efficiency of fuel injectors as compared to carburetors. Simone Colas, second in chemistry, found the strongest paper towels from among five brands.
All four students did well enough at the Clayton County science fair that they will advance to compete in the statewide science fair April 15 to April 17 at the University of Georgia.
Clemons picked five golfers and recorded their drives on golf simulators using four different brands of balls.
"I enjoyed hitting golf balls," Clemons, an avid golfer, said. "I don't usually stick to one ball, but I will now."
The average distance of TopFlight golf balls was more than 213 yards, as compared to second farthest brand, Maxfli, which averaged 207 yards, he said.
Comparing fuel injectors and carburetors, Hill found that fuel injectors are more efficient. Crawling underneath cars and researching how cars function, she worked alongside her dad. She said her first place certificate will hang alongside a certificate her father received while he was in the military.
Gradually adding more and more weight, Colas picked up plates using paper towels. Lifting more than 80 ounces, she determined that Bounty was the strongest brand.
"It's kind of like steroids," Allen said. "It stunts their growth."
To his surprise, he concluded that fertilizer actually hinders growth of some plants.
"I just wanted to get an A," Allen said. "I didn't expect to get this far. I'm just pleased getting this far."
The students' physical science teacher Libby Torbush said she "was not surprised because they're all fine students, but pleased."
Mixing art and science, the students researched their project using the scientific method and prepared a visual display as well.
"They all did a fine job of the science and the artistic display," Torbush said.
The students began the projects only days into the school year in the fall and completed the projects in December or January.
Upon completion, the students competed at the county level, displaying their projects and answering rigorous questions from judges.