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Emilee Webb & Taylor Melton – Virtual Southwestern Energy Arkansas Science & Engineering Fair Honorable Mention & Ouachita Mountains Regional Science & Engineering Fair Winners Hot Springs, AR

Emilee Webb and Taylor Melton, Poyen High School, Poyen, AR

Mentor: Amanda Jones

Category: Materials Science

Project Title: Deadly Deterioration: What's Really in Your Drink?



Styrofoam may be thought of as a convenient product to make cups, however, what most people do not know is that they are actually consuming part of their cup.

Emilee Webb and Taylor Melton

After noticing our teacher’s drink had obvious holes forming in her cup after drinking limeade, we decided to take a deeper look into what was actually causing this deterioration. To test this, we took Styrofoam cups from a popular fast food restaurant and put the proportional amount of lemons or limes in each cup that the restaurant would put in. Soda and water were also tested with water as the control. After just one hour, holes in the cups with the lemons and limes began to form. This Styrofoam is now part of the drink. The World Health Organization has recently named Styrofoam as a probable carcinogen.


To prevent this harmful substance from leaking into drinks, we believed soybean oil would produce a protective coat on the cup. When a soybean coating surrounded the interior of the cup, no holes formed after one hour. After 24 hours, only a few holes formed and not every cup had holes. Soybean oil is a cheap, tasteless and odorless protectant that may prevent a toxic buildup of styrene within humans. Based on the data gathered from the experiment, several specimens of interest were identified that will undergo further testing to determine the mechanism by which the microorganism affects the pathogen and from there in vitro tissue trials.

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