JOPLIN, MO.--- A Joplin High School senior is getting a chance to compete in the world's largest international science fair. The project is how Facebook is affecting the use on student's memory in a learning environment. Laela Zaidi first competed in the Missouri Southern State University Science Fair, and was one of two winners in our area to win the grand prize to compete in the Intel International Science Fair in Los Angeles next week.
"So what I decided to do was have students look at either their own Facebook profile or their friend's Facebook profile. And what they did was they were given words to memorize. They did one of those two things and they had to recall the words again later. So essentially, I was studying how does Facebook affects our ability to learn while we are trying to study," said Laela Zaidi, Joplin High School Senior.
She also had participants fill out a self esteem survey and a Facebook intensity survey to measure how much they use Facebook and how connected they are to it.
"What we found was the participants who viewed their friends profiles did far better the more they used Facebook. So essentially, this is proving that when we use Facebook to connect with others and viewing our friends profiles, we do better on these learning tests. When participants viewed their own profiles, who were trying to do learning tests, they did worse," said Zaidi.
This indicates that different kinds of Facebook use, leads to different psychological effects.
"That in return can effect our ability to learn in our cognitive processes," said Zaidi.
"Kids these days are using all kinds of social media. They are using computers in the class room and it's a very important thing for us to know how much these social media websites effects us and people in our everyday environment," said Nathan Mutic, Joplin High School Science Teacher.
At the Missouri Southern State University Science Fair in March, Zaidi won the category of behavior and social sciences and won the grand prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles with her science teacher Nathan Mutic.
"I hope that with this new science and research class, that we can have more kids in the community excited about science," said Mutic.
Zaidi will be competing against nearly 2,000 other high school students from all over the country and world from May 10th to 17th. This project got Zaidi a full-ride scholarship to Hendricks College in Arkansas.