A Sleep Project from the 2016 Toronto Science Fair

In April 2016, I had the privilege of being a judge for the Toronto Science Fair, where I met two young—they are in Grade 8—sleep researchers. Their study impressed me so much; I invited them to write a blog about their research and their experience at the science fair. Please find their blog below:

A Sleep Project from the 2016 Toronto Science Fair

By Celine Chung and Shahrzad Islami

Our project started one late afternoon, with the both of us pondering about what to investigate on for our science project for the 2016 Toronto Science Fair. We knew that we wanted to do a project that can relate to teens and maybe include science on things teens find important. The danger of phones? No, already done. Why is smoking bad for you? Too overused. What about something related to sleep? We both knew that teens are always complaining about how tired they are, and love staying up all night. Perfect. Now we had to create an inquiry question to investigate upon from this. We finally decided to compare it to another thing we found that teens always worried about, their weight. Our inquiry question for this year’s project led to being:“ How Does Sleep Affect Weight?”

A Sleep Project from the 2016 Toronto Science Fair After submitting our project entry, our investigation purpose was to be able to find the relation between sleep and weight. To gather data, we passed around a survey to a grand total of 100 grade 8 students. 50 boys and 50 girls were asked about their height, weight, average amount of sleep per night, number of meals consumed per day, average amount of hours spent on studying per week and if the individual did any after school sports on a regular basis.

After calculations, research and collaboration it was time to see what all our hard work added up to. As a conclusion, we found that in general, the majority of the grade 8s who took the survey did not sleep the recommended 8.5-10 hours a night. We also found that in girls, the majority of them were studying the recommended 8 hours per week. However, very few girls were sleeping enough, eating enough and doing many sports. This may be a very likely reason why so many of the girls were underweight. Whereas on the boys side, they were sleeping, eating and considerably more active, but they were spending a little time on their studies. The greater majority of the boys also came out to have a normal/ healthy body mass index.

A Sleep Project from the 2016 Toronto Science Fair

A Sleep Project from the 2016 Toronto Science Fair

Throughout our investigation, we eliminated many potential factors that could influence our results and make them inaccurate, but one factor that we just could not do anything about was society. We believe this may be an explanation for the results we gathered from the girls. A few things we thought we could have improved on for next year’s science fair, is to include a children’s and teen BMI scale indicator. In addition, we would like to use a different BMI scale indicator for the different sexes. Next time, we are interested in seeing how our results will change and whether or not they remain relatively alike.

A Sleep Project from the 2016 Toronto Science Fair At first, we thought of this project as a small pass time with a cool prize. As we started reading our findings, we saw that we had come upon a real social issue. This test may have been done a small group of people relative to how many people real researchers test their experiments on, but even in this small proportion of people, we saw that girls aren’t focussing enough on their health. If society and the public could promote female athleticism a bit more, than maybe girls could have an athletic future to look up to. If girls are always so worried about the way they look and want that “ideal, fit” body, then why not promote sports and athletics among girls to help them achieve a healthy lifestyle? We hope that one day we can look back on this project and use it to help us come up with bigger plans to help the teen.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article on our science project as much as we enjoyed making it, and we would love to hear your feedback and opinions on this topic. We would also like to sincerely thank Ms Kanagasabai for this wonderful opportunity to share our experience.

Category Sleep, Sleep and Health, Obesity and Sleep, Sleep in general

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