Greenbrier Co. students win top prize at state social studies co - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Greenbrier Co. students win top prize at state social studies competition

FAIRLEA, W. Va (WVVA)-- Eastern Greenbrier Middle School students Brett Napier and Emily Swann won first place in Psychology for Division II (grades 6-8) at the WV Social Studies Fair on April 26.

The first place finish was their second in three years. The pair's project, "Do You Do Dye," focused on red dye 40, from why companies use it in food to the dangerous side effects.

The two sixth graders decided to learn more about red dye 40, from the products it is found in to its side effects. "We surveyed 100 people to see how much they knew about red dye 40 and we were surprised by how little people knew about it. Most people knew that red dye 40 is found in Froot Loops and M&M's, but few knew that it is also in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and vanilla icing," said Napier.
"Only 11% of the people we surveyed were aware of the side effects and 51% didn't know how much red dye 40 they consume," said Swann. "Companies use red dye 40 to make food look more appealing and because it is cheaper than more natural alternatives. Red dye 40 can cause hyperactivity, ADHD, allergy-like symptoms, asthma, and eczema. It is even linked to autism and lower IQs. We feel people need to be better educated about red dye and the potential dangers, especially to children."
"We were shocked to find that only 16% knew that some medicines contain red dye. The dye is used for no reason other than to make it look more appealing, especially to children," said Napier. "The problem is, some parents would give their children these medicines, such as Benadryl, to help alleviate the allergy symptoms, when the medicine was actually making it worse."
"We've been able to inform our friends and family, but want to do more," continued Swann. "So we're going to create a video of our presentation and submit it to Channel One, a TV channel that is shown in over 7,000 schools across the country. If they use it, it could reach almost 5 million students. We also hope to speak to community organizations, like Rotary clubs."
The White Sulphur Springs residents also won first place in Psychology in Division I (grades 4 and 5) at the WV Social Studies Fair in 2011 for their project, "Born to be Blonde." Napier is the son of Cindi and Kevin Napier and Swann is the daughter of Lynn and Bill Swann.

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