Reflecting back on it, the last couple of weeks have been a blast. Over the course of the mini-experiment I conducted, officially known as Screen 1, I tested the effects of darkness and Valerian (a sleeping drug) on fruit flies. I measured the average distances between the fruit flies over a set period of time, with the intent on analyzing how the drug and stressor affected how sociable the fruit flies were. Sadly, my data revealed no pattern; however, the whole process taught me a couple of things, with the main one being that you can still learn a variety of things without recording the perfect data. I walked out with an abundance of skills from those four experimental days, including micro-pipetting, creating dilutions, and proper labeling techniques, skills that I hope to continue on using in my post-college years.
The end of Screen 1 meant, for me, the best part of the program was about to start: the independent project. The basis of my independent project sprouted over two years ago, during what I thought was going to be another boring health class lecture about nutrition. The teacher droned on about healthy eating, protein, and fats before ending the class with a story about sugars. He told us that, back in the 1970s, big corporations paid off scientists to falsify data showing that artificial sugars were a healthy alternative to all the fats found in foods of the time. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the United States is facing an obesity epidemic. As you probably already guessed, my experiment revolves around the effects of artificial sweeteners and obesity in fruit flies.
I specifically picked Splenda to be my test subject, an artificial sweetener with the main ingredients of dextrose and maltodextrin. Over the course of the next two weeks, I will be recording and analyzing the masses of the flies (both the original, parent flies and the younger, first generation vial born flies); as well, I will be recording statistics on the development of the flies, from the larval stages all the way up to adulthood. I really hope to find some sort of connection between the data, something that I can use to show others, something that those scientists over 40 years ago were not willing to show the world.