Local student electrifies Flathead County Science Fair

Emily Lockhart recently received the award for Best Energy Related Science Project at the 2022 Flathead County Science Fair.

Lockhart’s project, titled “Zap That Wire,” also took home a Physical Sciences Grand Champion, Eighth Grade, award. Wanting to know which type of wire best conducted electrical current, Lockhart wired a light bar for a Jeep-type vehicle with four different types of wire: copper, aluminum, stainless steel, and steel. Her hypothesis was that copper wire would have the least voltage drop, or the best conductivity, of the four wire types. She learned that she was correct. Stainless steel wire proved to have the most voltage drop, or worst conductivity.

Lockhart noted that conductivity is important because fluctuations in electricity, such as low voltage, “. That means that electricity will fry your stuff if it’s not powering it correctly!” She also learned that the quality of wire has an impact on conductivity, and therefore on how long electrically powered implements – in this case, the light bar – will last. “Copper is the good one,” she stated authoritatively.

An eighth-grader at Trinity Lutheran School, Lockhart is also the daughter of Brian Lockhart, a Journeyman Substation Wireman with Flathead Electric Co-op. Neither Lockhart nor her father was aware of the special award until Lockhart’s name was announced as the winner. There were several electricity-themed science projects, across multiple grade levels, in the entries. “I was totally surprised,” Lockhart admitted.

When asked about her future, Lockhart shared that she is interested in pursuing an engineering career with the Co-op. Flathead Electric Co-op presents the Best Energy Related Science Project award annually at the Flathead County Science Fair and encourages all area youth to learn more about energy.