Good vibrations

Student explores how sound travels

Zoe Patana will be going to state for her science fair project. Enlargephoto

Mary Shinn/ The Mancos Times

Zoe Patana will be going to state for her science fair project.

A Mancos middle student will be heading to the state science fair in April after earning second place at regional competition in the physics category for her experiment on how sound waves travel through different materials. She earned the honor at the regional fair in Durango, where the Mancos students competed against 218 other projects.

Zoe Patana, an eighth-grader, explored sound wavelengths because she would like deaf people to be able to sense the very minuscule differences in sound through subtle vibrations. She hopes this would allow them to appreciate music through vibration.

She was inspired to find out which materials transmit the vibrations the best because her aunt's family is deaf.

She used an application on her phone to measure the decibels that passed through each of her 11 materials including brick, cork and drywall. Her experiment revealed hollow wood and other rugged materials transmit vibrations best.

The judges rewarded her work with a $100 Making a Difference Award from BP.

Her vision is for deaf people to be able to play an instrument such as a piano by feeling the different vibrations in each of the keys.

Patana's science teacher, Kelly Finlay, said it was good to see a student pursue a project where the results weren't obvious.

Patana hopes to pursue a career in physics or forensic science.