Question Sheet: Toxic Dirt + Avian Flu = Science Fair Success


Before reading:

  1. How do you think winning a science fair would change your life? 
  2. Do you think all kids should have to participate in science fairs? Why or

    why not?

During reading:

  1. How did Nolan come up with the ideas for his winning science fair projects? 
  2. What did he learn from doing his projects? 
  3. How did Nolan check for arsenic around his school? 
  4. Why does Nolan say that his arsenic project touched on “a controversial


  5. What was Nolan’ s favorite part of the Discovery Channel Young Scientist

    Challenge (DCYSC) last year? 

  6. What steps did Nolan take to design a computer program that simulated the

    spread of avian flu? 

  7. Who is most at risk for the avian flu, according to Nolan’ s results?

After reading:

  1. How were Nolan’ s two science fair projects similar and different? To

    compare them, draw two large, intersecting circles with enough overlapping space between them in which to write (This is called a Venn diagram. For an example, see In the

    overlapping space, write down the similarities between projects. In each circle’

    s unshared space, write about what makes each project unique. 

  2. Nolan obviously loves science. Find two quotes in the article that

    illustrate this passion. 

  3. Was Nolan’ s first science fair project better than his second? Explain your


  4. Explain what Nolan means when he says, “The interdisciplinary approach to

    science fascinates me.” (Hint: Interdisciplinary refers to the combination of

    more than one branch of knowledge, such as computer science, medicine, and

    history). Do you think you learn this way in school? Give a specific example to

    support your position. 

  5. How has Nolan’ s project changed your way of thinking about your own science

    fair project?


  1. How did local environmental issues affect Nolan’ s science fair projects? 
  2. What are the important environmental issues in your area?


  1. Why is being a good writer important to science fair success? 
  2. What resources could Nolan have used to learn more about his project? Using

    the library or the Internet, come up with two possible books or articles that he

    might have found useful for each project.


The more conditions (such as age and number of daily interactions) involved in a computer program, the more time the program needs to run. If it takes 25 hours for a program to consider 6 conditions, and each condition consumes the same amount of time, how much time does it take to consider each condition? How long would it take to consider 10 conditions? How about 17 conditions?