Tarantula carries VMT student into Intel International Science and Engineering Fair


The Magnet Tribune: Courtesy of Esther Morales

Esther Morales poses with her LISD Secondary Schools Science Fair trophies. She now goes to an international science fair contest.



Lauren Medellin, Staff Writer

“Midpoint I felt like giving up. It was continuous like I’ve done this before but I didn’t think I was going to do the project on time, because I did not have the science classes to go and go to another classroom and work with my sponsor,” Esther Morales said.

Morales, a VMT senior dance student who also attends Cigarroa High School, received first place for her LISD Secondary Schools Science Fair project called Ultrasonic Behaviors.

She now goes to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Morales clarified on what inspired her to do her project.

“I was looking for alternates. We use pest control all the time to draw away or kill spiders or animals whether we have in the house or not. What we don’t realize is that those chemicals also affect us so when I did this project I wanted to find something that wouldn’t affect us as much and instead of killing the arthropods and making them face extinction, drawing them away from your house instead of killing them,” Morales said.

Morales pointed out where she got her research from.

“The research I conducted myself. I studied at University of Utah. I had already been working with this you know seeing the reactions towards tarantulas specifically, and they kind of put lines of, ‘How many waves of sound they could stand’ but they (researchers) didn’t write the reactions. When I conducted the experiment myself there was a reason why they didn’t write a reaction because there was a different reaction every time. It’s not going to act this certain way every time you put the sound. It acts different ways as you go along, so you can say I got my research from Cornell that I read online. But the research was mainly me trying to see what it would do,” Morales said.

I was actually really shocked. It’s been my second year trying and last year I was really upset when I didn’t get it.”

— Esther Morales

Morales explained how long she took to complete her project.

“The project takes about 3 to 5 months depending on the process of the project. Mine was very delicate. The waves I was using wasn’t affecting us as much because us as underage students, but if an older person was next to me it would really affect that person, like it would hurt that person. This project does have downfalls but it’s an alternate solution and since it was a really picky project, I had to be very careful on where I conducted the project and look after my variables so it wasn’t that wild to manage,” Morales said.

Morales explained the hardest part of her project.

“Other than getting things done on time was making it look pretty. I’m so bad at decorations and that’s why I didn’t make it last year. Last year I lost by 3 points (Nationals) and just because how it looked. This year I really focused in it like I tried to get people’s ideas on how it should look because I’m not the best decorator. Aside from using ultrasonic waves and to see their reactions to something or trying to use with glasses to see if it worked. Actually the hard part was decorating it which is kind of odd,” Morales said.

The glasses she referred to were various liquor glasses.

“In this project glasses with the range of 80-130hz were divided into 2 groups: group one was 80-100hz and group two was 100-130hz. These groups were used to see the behavioral changes of the pink toe tarantula,” Morales said.

“In grade school we are taught that everything vibrates. For example, tables vibrate, and the air molecules move around each other. So sound is produced when something vibrates. The vibrating body causes the medium (water or air) around it to vibrate. Sound waves consist of areas of high and low pressure called compressions and rarefactions, respectively. During this procedure liquor glasses were used as vessels in order to resonate sound. Every material such as glass has a resonant frequency,” Morales said.

The fact that I won. I enjoyed that like finally taking a breather, resting.”

— Esther Morales

“The glasses were filled half way with sparkling water. I used my index and pointing finger to circle the rim of the glass. As sound resonated, the vibrations of the given sound caused a specific reaction in the pink toe tarantula,” Morales said.

Morales pointed out what she enjoyed about the project.

“The fact that I won. I enjoyed that like finally taking a breather, resting. That satisfaction when you work so hard for something. I really enjoyed that,” Morales said.

Morales explained her reaction on winning the science fair.

“I was actually really shocked. It’s been my second year trying and last year I was really upset when I didn’t get it. I remember going up to my sponsor that year and I was like, ’you know what, next year I’m going to make it. Next year I’m going to do the best that I can and I’m going to oversee this and I’m going to be able to achieve this.’ So this year I started to give up midway. I had a conversation with my former science teacher who’s not in that school anymore. I saw him at a competition and he gave me this huge pep talk on why I should keep going after the pep talk. I kind of started going again. The results were pretty shocking. I thought I wasn’t going to get it again and the school didn’t think I was going to get it and nobody thought that I was going to get it because Nixon always gets it, and for being the first time as a Cigarroa student and representing my school. Not only my school but the whole district,” Morales said.

Morales clarified what she expects from the international science fair.

“When I go to Phoenix, Arizona, I don’t know what to expect. It’s kind of blank. I’m expecting a big ballroom full of international people. I had a meeting last week with the Dean of Science and they were explaining everything, and they were telling me that there was going to have people from Japan, and people from Chile. You’re going to meet people from everywhere. I think that’s what I’m expecting, a big experience. Overall, it’s about going out there and showing what I’m capable of and doing and sharing that with the rest of the world,” Morales said.

She said she will leave May 11 and return on May 17.

Morales summed up what she learned.

“There are multiple solutions to a problem and that animals do get affected by music like we do and that if you work hard enough you can go somewhere,” Morales said.