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Mouth-watering project wins first place at state science fair

Eighth-grader Eleanor Mackintosh’s winning science project can make anyone drool.

The Good Shepherd School student had state science fair judges salivating over her project “Simply Mouth Watering,” winning her a handful of cash prizes and first place in the Medicine and Health category of the Fort Collins fair April 12.

“I couldn’t believe it all,” said 13-year-old Mackintosh.

In addition to winning $200 for her first place spot at the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, she was awarded $100 from both the Colorado Dental Association and Colorado Medical Association. The medical association also invited her to present her project at its annual conference in Vail.

“She’s a smart cookie,” said Principal Mary Bartek. “My reaction was I’m so glad she won, but I can’t say I’m surprised.”

Her project began with an act of charity.

She wanted to alleviate her father’s post-cancer ailments with an unprecedented solution. Todd Mackintosh suffers dry mouth after a series of radiation treatments—used to treat his throat and neck cancer—destroyed his salivary glands.

After research, interviews with his doctors and testimony from other throat and neck cancer patients, she developed a solution to promote salivation.

“Her goal was to engineer a mouthwash that increased salivary functions,” said her science teacher, Annette Humphrey. “All her data showed a marked increase in salivary functioning.”

Mackintosh concocted a solution of concentrated Gatorade and three kinds of acids, including those found in lemon juice and pickle juice, which together promoted saliva.

A grape-flavored option is her dad’s preference, she said.

“He loves it. His favorite is the gel. That lasts up to 30 minutes and he can notice a difference,” Mackintosh said. “It was great just to do something to help my dad, because we owe our parents so much.”

She may enter her project into the national science fair called The Broadcom Masters, a competition for students in sixth through eighth grades.

Mackintosh said she will attend George Washington High School in Denver and enter its International Baccalaureate program. She has aspirations to study the sciences in college.

“I’d love to get into medicine,” she said. “I’m so fascinated by anatomy.”

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