Garrett Luthans and Joey DeCosta wondered about the animals that called White Rock Lake home. As neighborhood residents, the fourth graders had a special interest in the lake’s dredging. They saw the school science fair as a chance to track the affects of the dredging on the lake’s marine life.

Garrett and Joey began the project over a year ago, just before the dredging began. At the time, they both attended fourth grade at Wallace Elementary. Because the dredging wasn’t scheduled to be completed in time for the science fair, the boys originally compared the data collected from White Rock before dredging to data collected from Joe Pool Lake, which they thought would be representative of White Rock after dredging.

“We collected samples of soil and water from both lakes and compared them,” Garrett says.

The boys entered the results gathered from this comparison in their science fair that year but didn’t receive any awards. But when the White Rock project was completed ahead of schedule, the boys decided to team up again and give the experiment another shot.

After completing another round of data collection, the boys expanded and revised the project.

“We found out that there were more species of animals in the lake after the dredging,” Garrett says. “The habitat of the lake definitely changed.”

In the year that had passed since the boys first began the experiment, Joey moved to Moss Haven Elementary. The boys exhibited the updated project at both schools this year, but entered it in the science fair only at Moss Haven, where it won the Grand Prize for combined fourth and fifth graders.

The project then advanced to the North Dallas Regional Science Fair. At this level, the boys were awarded both the First Prize in the life science category and the overall Grand Prize.

“We had a hunch we had won the Grand Prize when we saw the helpers reaching for two trophies,” Garrett says.

The boys say they are done entering the project in science fairs, but would like to collect more data this summer.

The North Dallas Regional Elementary Science Fair is sponsored by Nortel Networks in partnership with the Regional Elementary Science Fair Board.