Contest Winner Takes on Disney

“Little Mermaid” Exposed as Scientific Fallacy

Genna Greenberger
Genna Greenberger

Genna Greenberger, a 15-year-old student at Portage Central High School, will receive a $500 scholarship from MichiganScience for her winning submission to our "Scientific or Not?" essay contest. Her essay, titled "Under the Sea," describes why the Disney animated feature "The Little Mermaid" defies the laws of science.

The contest required students in grades 6 through 12 to analyze in 500 words a scientific fact or fallacy from a book, movie, song or other pop-culture medium. The contest was sponsored by MichiganScience and Edmund Scientifics®, a premier supplier of science kits and other educational materials.

Essay Contest logo

"At the bottom of the ocean, mermaids should implode from water pressure, making the movie ‘The Little Mermaid’ scientifically impossible," Greenberger concluded. "Sebastian the Crab couldn’t live on the bottom of the sea, either. Sebastian’s crustaceous exoskeleton would snap and be crushed under the pressure that far underwater."

Greenberger learned of the contest from Cheryl Hach, a teacher at the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center. Greenberger relied on the Internet for most of her research.

"I found a good school-use Web site that had a lot of diagrams and helpful information to understand the differences between air pressure and water pressure," she said. "I had no idea that water pressure is so enormous."

Science likely will figure in Greenberger’s future. "Science really is interesting," she said. "There are so many little things you need to learn in order to understand the Big Ideas … to learn just how complex and perfect things need to be in order to work [such as] the human body and the Earth."

Greenberger is considering a career in either neonatology or meteorology. "Both interest me a lot," she said. "I would really like to do something with the human body that could help people." The desire to help also motivates her interest in meteorology. "A meteorologist informs people and helps them to prepare for things."

Two other students from Portage Central High School also were named as contest winners. Second place was awarded to Alisha Kamboj for her essay on the scientific errors in the film "The Day After Tomorrow," which depicted the supposed cataclysmic consequences of global climate change. Third place was awarded to Phoebe Huberty, who analyzed why the Fizzy Lifting Drink featured in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" could not have lifted the young Charlie and his grandfather into the air. Kamboj and Huberty will receive gift certificates redeemable for science kits and games through Edmund Scientifics®.

A new essay contest will be announced in the next issue of MichiganScience.

"Scientific or Not?"
Essay Contest Winners

First Place Winner

Under the Sea
By Genna Greenberger


Second Place Winner

“The Day after Tomorrow” Ignores Scientific Principles
By Alisha Kamboj


Third Place Winner

Full of Hot Air
Willie Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink Scientifically Unworkable

By Phoebe Huberty


Honorable Mentions

Student

School/Teacher

Essay Topic

Chelsea Angel

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Fevers and “Mother Knows Best”

Amelia Atkinson

Portage Central High School/Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

The Day After Tomorrow

Harry Bauer

Grade 9

Marshall High School

Teacher: Mrs. Demorest

The Unreality of the Halo Series

Christy Billings

Grade 6

C.W. Otto Middle School, Lansing

Teacher: Stephanie Chandel

Star Wars

Hayley Braun

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Kyle XY

Gina Calco

Grade 9

Portage High School/ Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

The Day After Tomorrow

Ashley Connors

Grade 11

Gladstone Area High School, Gladstone

Optical Blasts in the X-Men

Matthew Cross

Grade 11

Lake Orion High School, Lake Orion

Multiverses on Television

Nick Drake

Grade 9

Harper Woods High School

Star Trek’s Orientation Problem

Nika Duan

Grade 8

Frost Middle School, Livonia

Teacher: Carim Calkins

Infrared Dots in Rap Music

Sarah Erdman

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Scurvy in Pirates of the Caribbean

Patric Germay

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Superman

 

 

 

Jing Guo

Grade 12

Troy High School

Teacher: Rebecca Johns

Laser Beams

Sidney Helmer

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Light Sabers in Star Wars

Robert Hsu

Grade 8

Hillsdale Middle School, Hillsdale

Teacher: Dwight Sieggreen

Global Warming

Wendy Impellizzeri

Grade 9

Home School, Caledonia

Star Wars, Episode IV

Joseph Kim

Grade 11

Troy Athens High School, Troy

Teacher: Deanna Fakhouri

The Core

Chelsea Litton

Grade 8

Wilson Middle School, Wyandotte

Teacher: Mrs. Martin

The Day After Tomorrow

John Liu

Grade 12

Troy High School, Troy

Teacher: Rebecca Johns

Using 10 Percent of Our Brains

Kurt Manuel

Grade 11

Hazel Park High School

Teacher: Amy Zitzelberger

The Atom

Eric McCarthy

Grade 8

Southfield Christian, Southfield

Star Trek and Warp Speed

Meaghan McCowey

Grade 9

Portage Northern High School/Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Star Trek and Sounds in Space

Ben Mehne

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Giant Ants in the Film Them

Aima Mori

Grade 9

Troy Athens High School, Troy

Teacher: Deanna Fakhouri

Dragons in Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Trilogy

Andrew Pan

Grade 8

Pierce Middle School, Waterford

Star Wars

Mariam Zunnu Rain

Grade 6

Huda School,  Franklin Village

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Joe Rauen

Grade 7

Frost Middle School, Livonia

Teacher: Carim Calkins

Metropolis

Christina Rissman

Grade 6

Carter Middle School, Warren

Is There Sound in Outer Space?

Gagandeep Singh Sanhu

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Star Wars

Debbie Scheller

Grade 9

Luke M. Powers Catholic High School, Flint

Stargate SG-1

Sanjay Sharma

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Devin Sharp

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Spider Man and DNA Transformation

Hali Shepherd

Grade 9

Marshall High School

Teacher: Mrs. Demorest

Tornado Fallacies in the Film Twister

Anthony Spalvieri-Kruse

Grade 9

Portage High School/ Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Back to the Future and Time Travel

Liam Starr

Grade 11

Troy Athens High School, Troy

Teacher: Deanna Fakhouri

Morality of Stem Cell Research

Casey Lynn Sunden

Grade 9

Gull Lake High School/ Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Kyle XY

Jeanne Van Gilder

Grade 10

Webberville Community Schools, Webberville

Teacher: Ken Keyes

Shape Shifters and the Law of Conservation of Mass

Megan Walsh

Grade 9

Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

King Kong

Samantha Winter

Grade 10

Marshall High School

Teacher: Mrs. Demorest

Stars

Isabella Wu

Grade 9

Portage Central High School/ Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center

Teacher: Cheryl Hach

Fallacies in Undersea Films

Helen Yang

Grade 11

Troy High School, Troy

Teacher: Rebecca Johns

Jaws