Eleven-year-old student Yasmine Aziz of Barrington Middle School earned a spot on the Hillsborough County team heading to the Florida state science fair competition. Her project “The Color of Blood: How Does Color Affect Blood Pressure” proved that she s headed for big things.

By Brian Shaffer

As area middle and high school students enter the Hillsborough County Regional Science and Mathematical Fair, they do so knowing that they are embarking upon a long-term process that will push each of them to new extents.

Barrington Middle School opened in the fall of 2009, but it wasn’t until this year’s competition rolled around that the Bolts officially threw their hat into the scientific scholastic ring.

And it did so with a bang.

The third-year school will be sending a first-year student to the state science fair competition, as sixth-grader Yasmine Aziz earned her way onto the Hillsborough County team headed to Lakeland.

With her project “The Color of Blood: How Does Color Affect Blood Pressure?” Aziz wowed the judges and took second place overall in the behavioral and health science category as well as an award from the International Society for Optics and Photonics.

“I had always heard that color can somehow affect you heart rate so I thought maybe I could test it out on blood pressure,” Aziz said. “My hypothesis was that the brighter colors like red and yellow would have a greater affect on blood pressure.”

Aziz’s mother, Angie, credits her daughter’s ability to maintain a high academic standard and the support of her science teacher, Leah Shaffer, as the factors that have Yasmine headed onto such a prestigious state-wide stage.

“You never know where this is going to lead and what she is going to decide to do in life,” Angie said. “My father had a heart condition, so learning about heart health has always been important to her. When she came up with this idea, I knew it was stemming from [her grandfather] a little bit.”

Aziz’s project required the help of many human volunteers – 14 helpful 4-6 year olds at a Riverview Montessori school – who were hooked up to a blood pressure monitor and then shown a series of photographs depicting a variety of colors. The results we documented by Aziz and her hypothesis was put to the test. She discovered that red increased blood pressure the most, while green was best at lowering blood pressure.

“I had to think in the beginning that I had a good, equal shot at winning, but it mattered most that I put in the effort,” Aziz said.

However, the success of Barrington’s first ever trip to the regional competition did not end with its notable sixth-grader.
Eighth-grader Ben Simon received second place in the computer science category and the Seminole Electric

Environmental Science Award for “applied scientific development, creativity, thoroughness of work, knowledge demonstrated, clarity and the display’s dramatic element”.

Eighth-grader Madison Kinney was awarded the United States Air Force Certificate of Achievement for and Outstanding Science or Engineering Fair Project.

Additionally, eight-grader Kyle Santos was awarded the Association of Fertilizer and Phosphate Chemists Certificate of Achievement for an Outstanding Science Fair Project.

“This is a big deal for the school,” Angie Aziz said of Barrington’s success and that of her daughter. “It is a huge deal to have one of their students to represent the whole student body… It raises the bar for everyone.”

For more information on Barrington Middle School, please visit barrington.mysdhc.org. Barrington Middle School is located at 5925 Village Center Dr. in Lithia.

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