Elizzabeth Hughes-Brown can tell you all about the effect of energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar on heart rate. The Baymonte eighth-grader spent many hours testing the effects of the drinks on Daphnia–planktonic crustaceans often used for toxicology studies. Lizzie, along with lab assistants John Heino, John Sosa-Guita, Jacob Westberg, and Ian Boyle, tested the effects of various drink concentrations on more than 50 Daphnia. She found that the super-caffienated energy drinks do effect heart rate significantly and may have adverse health effects. When the drinks are diluted so that caffeine levels are the same as those in soda, there is no significant difference in their effect on heart rate–suggesting that the caffeine is the primary culprit in the drinks’ effects on the heart.
Lizzie’s project won the Medicine and Health category at the Santa Cruz County Science Fair. She also won the overall award for best Jr. Division project, which is accompanied by a cash award from Seagate Technology. In addition, her project was selected to represent the County in the California State Science Fair to be held in Los Angeles in May, and may represent our region in two national science fairs held in Houston, Texas and Washington, D.C.