A student's conclusion: More sleep may not make you feel better


While his colleagues worked late at night and on weekends to complete their science fair projects, Hendricken freshman Conner Flynn went to sleep.

That’s because sleep was his project. Flynn was curious about the effects of interrupting sleep cycles that are about 90 minutes in duration. During that period, the body transitions from a period of light sleep, which is called REM for rapid eye movement, to deep and then back to lighter sleep before the cycle starts again.

To conduct his project and come up with the answers, Flynn turned to an app for the iPhone. The app records movement and, by placing the phone securely on the bed, provides a graph of the sleeper’s activity. Periods of lighter sleep are reflected by increased amounts of activity, so it is easy to identify the periods of REM and thereby the cycles.

To establish a baseline for his experiment, Flynn set up a schedule, based around 90 minutes, by turning in at 11 p.m. and getting up at 5. [He lives in Newport, so he’s got to get an early start to get to school on time.] Upon getting up every morning, he evaluated how he felt. Generally, he was energized and feeling well rested and ready for the day.

Then he changed the routine and went to bed at 10 p.m., giving himself an extra hour of sleep. That didn’t help his disposition. He felt groggy and irritable. He had his answer.

Ninety-eight Hendricken students, most of them freshmen, did science fair projects this year. Fifty-three were chosen for the school fair. From that total, 15 will go on to the state science fair to be held March 15-16 at the Knight Campus of CCRI.

The coordinator of the Hendricken fair, science teacher Jeremy Graney, said that a greater percentage of the projects this year focused on plants and bacteria and that overall, “We’re seeing more technical ones, with deeper research than what you would expect at the high school level.”

The wave energy-generating project built by Chris Couture DelValle falls into that category. Inspired by an article on ocean wave power, and how it is being used to generate electricity in Australia that appeared in Popular Mechanics, he set out to build his own generator. The principle is pretty simple: As a wave fills a confined area, it compresses air that escapes through the blades of a turbine to generate electricity. Building a model that worked took three months and a lot of sloshing in the school science lab.

“I love doing this,” he said of his wave project. “I think it is important because it is one of the most efficient energies.”

DelValle has a passion for engineering and wants to work at SpaceX, a private firm that builds and launches rockets for space transportation.

Also working on power generation, sophomore John Grasso quantified how various levels of light can affect the output of photoelectric cells. His conclusion: the more light, the greater the production of power.

John Ferguson chose to quantify the power of memory difference between men and women. His project involved a sheet of paper with the pictures of 15 objects. Subjects were given 10 seconds to view the sheet and then pick those objects from a sheet listing scores of objects. During the minute they had to circle their choices, females held an edge on males. His mother, it turned out, remembered the most – 13 of the 15 objects. In defense of the men, Ferguson said they all remembered the baseball bat.

Unlike some of his peers, who have their sights set on careers in science and engineering, Ferguson is thinking of business and maybe sports management.


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Im tired.

Monday, February 25, 2013