GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Topics at the Jersey Shore Science Fair on Saturday ranged from the deep to the whimsical.

More than 700 students from 39 schools across the state competed in the annual fair at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. The displays were imaginative and thoughtful. Many featured New Jersey-centric topics about subjects such as coastal conservation.

Deborah Dieudonne, an eighth-grader from Galloway Township, examined whether people’s cultural backgrounds affect their perception of color. She wants to study psychology in college.

“Children from the U.S. tend to be more specific about their perception of color than children of parents born outside the U.S.,” she said.

Joshua Ungerer, 11, of Egg Harbor Township, a student at Assumption Regional Catholic School, examined whether it was harder to play the video game “Mario Kart” when faced with distractions such as talking or texting on a phone. Not surprisingly, it was.

Ungerer is six years away from driving a nondigital car. And when he gets one, it probably won’t toss bombs or fire banana peels. But Ungerer said there are practical lessons to be learned from his experiment.

“If you want to stay safe, you should avoid distractions,” he said.

Jeffrey Quicksall, 11, of Alder Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township, visited a police station for his research into the similarities of fingerprints in family members.

“A police officer taught me how to take fingerprints and showed me what to look for. Now, I have a better appreciation for how police take fingerprints and analyze them,” he said.

Fingerprint scanning is useful beyond law enforcement. More devices are using fingerprints as a biometric tool for passwords.

Students of all ages participated.

Ryan Badum, a senior at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology in Sandy Hook, examined whether Hurricane Sandy encouraged an invasive species called Asiatic sand sedge to take hold.

The species grows low to the ground in thick tufts that discourage dune formation, he said. He found that the weed proliferated after storms and took over much of the dune system, a worry for most of the state’s coastline, he said.

“This is a big concern. It essentially flattens the dunes, which leaves coastal communities more susceptible to overwash from storms,” he said.

Emily McAndrews, 14, an eighth-grader at Fernwood Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township, found kids were influenced by colorful, eye-catching displays. She gave her test subjects a choice of lunch bags that were plain or featured bright colors and cartoon characters. Most reached for the colorful bags.

“It was good to see. I know that it’s very important for advertisers to see what really draws kids in and what might help them to get kids to buy their products,” she said.

Parents Edward and Patricia Owen, of Egg Harbor Township, attended to support their 15-year-old son, Edward. His project examined the medical potential of horseshoe crabs.

Patricia Owen said she learned a lot about the unusual creatures from her son’s project. They are not commonly found in her native Ecuador, she said.

She remembered competing in a science fair when she was her son’s age. Her topic was on coastal ecology as well. Her project didn’t win, but she remembered it fondly.

“It was fun,” she said.

Contact Michael Miller:

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Press copy editor since 2006, copy desk chief since 2014. Masters in journalism from Temple University, 2006. My weekly comics blog, Wednesday Morning Quarterback, appears Wednesday mornings at PressofAC.com.