Tag Archives: Norwich University

VtSTEM Winners!

Congratulations to our 2019 Vermont STEM fair water quality project winners!  The four students were chosen from among 200 student scientists who presented their projects on March 30, at Norwich University.  The annual fair features exhibits by middle and high school students from throughout the state, all of whom won local-level competitions for their experiments.

Clearly, cyanobacteria/algae and phosphorus are hot topics in Vermont’s schools, and all four 2019 winners addressed them in various ways.

Virginia Snyder

Virginia Snyder, in 11th grade at Windsor Schools, won the top award of $150 for her project “Designing a Solar-powered Ultrasonic Cyanobacteria Growth Inhibitor.”  Virginia explored using sound to suppress algae blooms by exposing four colonies of Anabaena to different ultrasonic wavelengths. She is motivated by the technology’s potential to treat natural bodies of water, but in the near future hopes to run tests on her algae growth inhibitor in home fish aquariums.  GMWEA’s judges were impressed by her knowledge of biology and sound physics, her use of multiple means of assessment, and the quality of her exhibit.  She is the student of Catharine Engwall.

Audrey Chairvolotti

Audrey Chairvolotti, a home-schooled 9th grader from Grand Isle, also won GMWEA’s top award of $150 for “Effects of Nonpoint-Source Pollutants on Cyanobacteria Growth.” Also concerned with algae blooms in Lake Champlain, Audrey collected cyanobacteria samples from a dense bloom on the lake, then tested their growth in 14 different solutions. The judges appreciated the thoroughness of her experimental protocols, her management of controls, her enthusiasm, and her understanding of biochemistry, as demonstrated in discussion and her exhibit.  She cites her mother, Sheila Chairvolotti, as her instructor for the project.

Emily King

Emily King, a 9th grader at Missisquoi Valley Union H.S., won $100 for “How Effective Will Substances Be in Binding to Phosphorus During Filtration?”  Seeking to identify  possible phosphorus (P) mitigation methods, Emily explored chemicals likely to bond with P, potentially allowing for filtration prior to entry to Lake Champlain.  She envisions additional testing to determine impacts of the binders on aquatic animal and plant life.  The judges were struck by her trans-disciplinary approach – testing P binders known from the treatment of kidney disease – and consideration of both possibilities and impediments to use of phosphorous-binding filtration.  She is a student of Richard Ballard.

Jaylyn Davidson

Jaylyn Davidson, a 10th grader at Northfield High School, won GMWEA’s $50 scholarship for “Is Algae Part of the Solution for Environmental Pollution?” Jaylyn explored the potentials for three types of algae and a flowering aquatic plant (duckweed) to help mitigate atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by sequestering CO2 through “farming” in lakes and oceans.  Growing each in four different nutrient solutions, she assessed biomass increase as a measure of CO2 uptake. The judges appreciated her concern for the global environment, her understanding of biochemistry, and her motivation to pursue a career in marine biology.  She is the student of Shane Heath.

We commend these terrific young scientists for their enthusiasm, discipline, and devotion to water ecosystems!

Many thanks are due to Aaron Perez and Paul Sestito, water systems specialists at Vermont Rural Water Association, for joining executive director Daniel Hecht to judge this year’s STEM fair.

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.

Congrats to Our 2018 Vt. STEM Fair Winners!

Here’s an annual event all at GMWEA look forward to. It’s fun, informative, and always leaves us with an optimistic vision of the future.

On Saturday, March 24, we sent a panel of seven special judges – GMWEA board officers, staff, association members, and a family member or two — to the annual Vermont Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fair.

Our goal was to seek out the best student research projects of the year and encourage K-12 inquiry into water quality science by giving scholarship awards to the most promising investigators.

Hosted each year by Norwich University, the show features exhibits by about 200 middle school and high school students from throughout the state, all of them winners of their schools’ science (and tech, engineering, and math) project competitions. We were pleased to see so many focused on water quality, and choosing winners was not easy for the judges!

Our awards were based on the relevance of the subject matter to water quality, the merit of research, quality of exhibit, and enthusiasm for and commitment to the field.

Congratulations to our five winners and to the teachers who worked with them to produce such excellent projects and results!

Sunthoshini Premsankar impressed us with “Neutralization of Pharmaceutical Pollution in Lake Champlain.”  She tackled this difficult — and too-seldom addressed – issue with an experiment on the effect of acetaminophen on duckweed, testing alternate absorbents and measuring results with chromatography. Sunthoshini, a 9th-grader at Champlain Valley Union H.S., received our $150 scholarship prize.

Christina Gregory also won a $150 scholarship prize for “Pond Regulation.”  This  complex project dealt with the integrity of a local pond not only in terms of ecosystemic viability, but in terms of the regulatory environment that does, or should, control human impacts on our surface waters.  Christina is in 11th grade at Windsor schools.

James Stephens, a 10th grader at Northfield High School, won a $100 scholarship for “The Efficacy of Different Water Purification Methods.”  James investigated the relative merits of ceramic filters, carbon filters, boiling, and distillation, focusing on conductivity, pH, and turbidity, and presented persuasive research methodology and a fine display.

Brooke Rouse looked for a different approach to water filtration: She compared coagulants derived from (plant-derived) moringa oleifera seed and aluminum sulfate in their ability to affect water’s turbidity and pH. Brooke, in 7th grade at Milton Middle School and a student of Rob Decicco, won a $50 prize.

 

Philip Skidd’s exhibit “Don’t Get Clammy Over River Pollution,” also won a $50 prize. His research explored the potential for freshwater clams to absorb nitrates, ammonia, and phosphate, thereby reducing saturation levels in natural waters.  Philip is in 7th grade at Mater Christi School in Burlington.

Winners, parents, teachers, and friends, we’d love to hear from you – please comment on this post!

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.