UACES Facebook Reid wins Cent Ark Regional Science, Engineering Fair Soybean Challenge
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Reid wins Cent Ark Regional Science, Engineering Fair Soybean Challenge

By KD Reep
U of A System Division of Agriculture
July 15, 2016

(645 words)

LITTLE ROCK – An experiment to use soybean oil rather than a more hazardous solvent to extract hair or other particles from popped popcorn has earned a Little Rock Central High School student top honors in the 2016 Central Arkansas Regional Soybean Challenge. 

Victoria Reid, 15, won a $300 cash award at the regional level, provided by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. The regional challenge was held at the 2016 Central Arkansas Regional Science and Engineering Fair held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Reid wanted to see if the environmentally friendly soybean oil was a viable replacement for heptane, a volatile organic compound that can cause dermatitis on contact with skin, or neural disruption if inhaled.

Her project involved boiling the popped popcorn, then pouring soybean oil or heptane onto it, with any filth floating to the surface. For her research, Reid created filth using hair and insect ligaments.

When asked about the most important conclusion of her study, Reid said, “Soybean oil is a viable flotation liquid when compared to Association of Analytical Communities methods when using macro filth particles. This is a start in the process of determining whether or not soybean oil could be used in filth methods in testing of our foods for filth.”

Reid plans to build on her research by recreating the experiment to begin testing soybean oil as a viable flotation liquid in filth recovery methods using micro filth particles. “I know the replacement should work; however, in order to determine if the swapping from heptane to soybean oil would work in a more real-life setting, the test would have to include micro particles as well.”

Reid took the Soybean Science Challenge online course but had little prior knowledge about soybeans. Because she eats soybeans every day through edamame, tofu and soy milk, she knew some of the basics of soybeans, but she did not know how soybeans were processed or the role they play in Arkansas’ agriculture.

“I consume a lot of soybeans every day,” Reid said. “When I heard about this challenge, I entered because I wanted to create a winning project that also benefited soybean sustainability. I’m extremely happy that I accomplished it.”

Reid particularly enjoyed learning about the multiple uses of soybeans in crayons, animal feeds, and everyday necessities people might not realize contain soybeans. “It’s impressive to me that such a small plant can have so many uses in such a variety of products,” she said. 

Her parents, Steven and Siang Reid, are proud of her tenacity. “On our way home from the 2015 state science fair, Tori indicated that she wanted to compete in the 2016 Soybean Science Challenge,” Siang Reid said. “For her to set that goal, follow through and win, made us very proud parents.” 

Engaging and rewarding students in real-world educational research that supports the Arkansas soybean industry and agricultural sustainability is the goal of the Challenge, which opened in 2014 to 9-12 grade Arkansas science students. Students who successfully completed the online course were eligible to have their original soybean-related projects judged at the 2016 ISEF affiliated Arkansas science and engineering fairs.

“The Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award program is in its fourth year partnership between the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board,” said Karen Ballard, developer and director of the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award program at the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

“The goal of the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge is to engage students in ‘real world’ education to support soybean production and agricultural sustainability,” said Shannon Davis, past president of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. “The program also rewards scientific inquiry and discovery that supports the Arkansas soybean industry.” 

For more information on the 2016-2017 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge, contact Dr. Karen Ballard at 501.671.2086 or For more information on soybeans, visit or contact your county extension office.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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