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Mummy enthusiast heads to semi-finals

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Sept. 6, 2001
You won't find powdered bleach, salt and baking soda in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, but 12-year-old Hallie Freyaldenhoven's science experiment proves it's just as good as natron maybe better.
Natron is the natural, absorbent salt used by ancient Egyptians during mummification to dry the tissues.
Freyaldenhoven used a mixture of household products to mummify chicken legs and apple slices, and the experiment made her a semi-finalist in the Third Annual Discovery Young Scientist Challenge.
The competition is sponsored by Discovery Communications, which owns the Discovery Channel and Science Service, a non-profit organization.
A seventh-grader at Magnolia Middle School, Freyaldenhoven developed her project, titled Mummy Magic, in the summer of 2000, as she prepared to enter sixth grade at St. Patrick Elementary School.
When her science project won at the regional level, Freyaldenhoven was given the opportunity to compete on the national level in the Discovery Young Scientist Challenge. Last month, she was notified that she is one of 400 semi-finalists chosen from more than 1,700 middle school students is the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Forty finalists in the challenge are expected to be named this month for competition in October, to be held in Washington D.C.
Freyaldenhoven said she has always been drawn to the history of ancient Egypt, and has checked out a number of books on the subject and done research on the Internet.
The next step in Freyaldenhoven's experiment is to find someone in Egypt who will send her some natron, so she can compare its results to her own concoction. And, this time, she's considering using a whole chicken.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.