Local Student Tackling Gas Prices

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The pain at the pump is something we're all experiencing. With gas prices close to $3 a gallon, scouting for the lowest price is the norm. Now a local high school student may have the answer to finding the cheapest gas in town.

He's only 16, but a local high school sophomore is trying to tackle an issue facing the United States economy, the high price of fuel.

"The prices were jumping up, down, all over and so I figured I needed to do something with it," Saint Michael's Academy student Henry Neilson said.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast, Neilson turned his focus to gas.

"I got a data sheet together and started collecting gas prices then I started working out what I would test," Neilson said.

For two months Neilson collected 7400 gas prices, from 28 different stations, checking prices once a day. His study was to find out why some gas stations have higher prices than others.

"A station with a restaurant or a convenience store will tend to have a price that is higher for each amenity over a station without one of those amenities," Neilson said.

Neilson says it's cheapest to buy gas on Monday afternoons and most expensive on Friday mornings, and location is a key factor. If the station is on a popular travel route, count on higher prices.

"The stations on University have a price scheme that is around seven cents higher than stations on Villa Maria," Neilson said.

Neilson says the cheapest gas can be found at grocery stores.

"Overall, during the two month period Sam's was the cheapest station," Neilson said.

It's these findings that took Nielson to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. It's the world's largest pre-college science fair. Neilson's project on gas prices went up against 1,500 students from around the world. Neilson didn't place, but he's had offers to publish a paper.

"Well, I'm glad that I have a break now but it was quite fun," Neilson said.

And this student, who just started driving himself, may help the everyday motorist save a little money.