Locust Trace trio treats ailing horse in science project
Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013
An ailing Arabian named Misty is getting some extra attention from three students tracking her health for their science fair project at Locust Trace AgriScience Farm. Transferring their love of horses to group TLC, juniors Laura May, Corrie Buckles and Lindsey Marcum hope a feed supplement will bring down Misty’s blood-glucose level.
“It’s kind of a vitamin. It looks like grain pellets, and we mix it in with her low-sugar sweet feed,” Laura explained.
When faced with choosing a topic in their Advanced Chemistry class, the girls approached the equine science instructor, who often brings her own animals to Locust Trace. Since Misty already suffers from Cushing’s disease, the risk of high sugar needed to be addressed. That presented an opportunity for a real-world school project.
“If her glucose level isn’t lowered, it’ll bring other health problems, and she could develop diabetes,” Lindsey said.
The trio checked with the veterinarian at the clinic adjacent to their classroom building, who recommended a particular supplement for a 60-day test. With the girls observing closely, Dr. Barry Hays drew 3cc of blood at the beginning and again at the 30-day mark, and showed them how to measure the glucose level. Misty was already at the high end of the normal range, and unfortunately after a month of treatment, her sugar level actually rose. They plan to check it again this weekend.
“We’ll get advice from Dr. Hays and maybe try a different supplement,” Lindsey said.
Each week, the students also have measured the girth of Misty’s neck and the distance from spiral to crest, the hump on the top. The latter has stayed roughly the same, but the diameter of her neck has decreased. Lindsey speculated that rather than the fatty deposits responding to the supplement, the 1,200-pound animal might have lost weight overall because of additional exercise at Locust Trace.
“You learn a lot from one horse,” added Corrie, who has enjoyed hand-feeding Misty during their experiment.
The girls explained their work to a team of judges evaluating the nine projects produced in Tracy Poff’s chemistry class. Based on the feedback, they will tweak their presentation and add some final charts and graphs before the District Science Fair, set for Feb. 9.
“It’s like an ongoing lab, so it’s good practice,” Laura noted.
Poff hopes to expand Locust Trace’s science fair next year, inviting the agriculture teachers to be mentors for students’ projects. In addition to the district, regional and state science fairs, Locust Trace students could also compete in the FFA’s summer event.
The process brings long-term rewards such as increased analytical skills, confidence in public speaking, and a better appreciation of time management and teamwork. Plus, as Poff said, “It gets the kids excited about research.”
If you go
District Science Fair
The 29th annual event, sponsored by Kentucky American Water and coordinated by Fayette County Public Schools, is set for Saturday Feb. 9 at host Bryan Station High School. Visit www.fcps.net/science for more details.
Notable: The district’s STEM Fair (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is the same day at the same location.