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March 24, 2018: GMWEA Awards Scholarships at 2018 Vermont STEM Fair
On Saturday, March 24, GMWEA sent a panel of seven special judges 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.
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 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 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.
Above, left to right: Sunthoshini Premsankar, Christina Gregory, James Stephens, Brooke Rouse, Philip Skidd.