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2012 EnvironMentors National Science Fair Student Research Projects

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture Jamie Whitten Building 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. Hosted by U.S. Forest Service, Division of Conservation Education


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

About EnvironMentors Since 1992, EnvironMentors has prepared high school students from underrepresented communities for college degrees and careers in environmentally related science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Over the past 20 years, EnvironMentors has matched over 1,500 high school students with science and environmental professionals, university faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students in mentoring relationships; facilitated teams in development of environmental science research projects; and supported students in presentation of their projects at the annual EnvironMentors National Fair and Awards Ceremony. EnvironMentors joined the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) in 2006 with the goal of expanding nationally as a university-based college access program. The EnvironMentors National Science Fair is the only competitive, national environmental science fair specifically geared to advancing students underrepresented in the fields of environmentally-related science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Top high school students from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds from across the United States compete for 11 college scholarships in areas such as climate change and air pollution, energy, water pollution, health, and biodiversity conservation. We were pleased to host students from EnvironMentors chapters at Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Arkansas State University, Colorado State University, Heritage University, Kean University, Louisiana State University, North Carolina State University, University of California at Davis, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, West Virginia University and the DC Chapter.

Michael Carvalho, Esq., Chair Janet Ady Mason Bryant Howard Akosua Dosu Meredydd Evans Jerry Farris, PhD Larry Feldman, PhD Matthew Ford, Esq.

Kay Larcom Wendy McAllister Sonia Ortega, PhD Susan Pultz Safiya Samman, PhD Thomas Windham, PhD William Winner, PhD Gwendolyn Wright, PhD

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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ENVIRONMENTORS ADVISORY BOARD


Student Index Cori Poe, Alabama State University……………………………. Kenisha Pickett, Alabama State University…………………….. Breuna Thomas, Alabama State University…………………….. Tamara Brown, Arkansas State University…………………….. Kristen Millsap, Arkansas State University…………………….. Kelsey Vinson, Arkansas State University……………………… Lydia Gonzolez, Colorado State University…………………….. Marcus Padia, Colorado State University……………………… Rodrigo Sepulveda, Colorado State University………………… Stewart Gray, DC EnvironMentors…………………………….. Emma Johnson, DC EnvironMentors…………………………... Dakari McAdoo, DC EnvironMentors………………………….. Rabeeta Aroosh, Kean University……………………………… Mariam Katu Binti, Kean University ………………………….. Kaylah Straughan, Kean University……………………………. Elizabeth Johnston, Heritage University……………………….. Arianna Wildflower, Heritage University………………………. Markeisha Hill, Louisiana State University……………………. Alexis Johnson, Louisiana State University……………………. Torrance Thomas, Louisiana State University…………………. Sean Beatty, North Carolina State University………………….. Lencia Holmes, North Carolina State University………………. Abhilash Pyreddy, North Carolina State University……………. Angelica Cervantes, University of California-Davis…………… Matt Gattie, University of California-Davis……………………. Shyla Potter, University of California- Davis…………………... Jamie Wright, University of California- Davis…………………. Kasmika Maharjan, University of Nebraska- Lincoln…………. Ahmed Mohamed, University of Nebraska-Lincoln……………. Andy Ngo, University of Nebraska – Lincoln…………………... Kaveen Herath Bandara, West Virginia State University……… Emma Mathers, West Virginia State University……………….. Heather Strahin, West Virginia State University……………….

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EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Cori Poe Alabama State University “Green Building and Green Design” Mentor: Barbara Hendrix

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Existing buildings and their operating systems are the biggest users of energy. More than 40% of the world’s primary energy consumption is traced back to these buildings and homes. When the carbon emissions are taken into consideration they are responsible for 45% of the global warming problem. This research was completed to determine if Green Building and Green Design reduces the overall impact of the building environment. Using the internet as a resource, the ALASU’s E-Journals and a local bookstore, pertinent information was gathered for the study. Research revealed that the integration of the following Green Building strategies: 1) green building materials; 2) sustainable construction methods; 3) sustainable systems; 4) design strategies, demonstrated the most efficient use of the environment’s resources and created a healthier indoor environment.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Kenisha Pickett Alabama State University “The Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Organisms: Crops and Cultivation� Mentor: Flamoun Johnson

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Genetic engineering is a fairly new field of study, and scientists do not fully understand its effects when it comes to long-term consequences. Many concerns have already been voiced over the insufficient testing of the effects of genetic engineering on humans as well as the environment. The introduction of foreign DNA into an organism could trigger other DNA in the plant or animal to mutate and change. Genetically modified organisms or GMOs are animals and plants that are genetically modified in order to produce and amplify a desired trait. Genetically modified crops have generated much public interest and controversy. Genetically modified crops are best known for their abilities to resist pests such as weeds, insects, and diseases or for produce containing high nutrient levels.The controversies surrounding GMOs, call for a need to raise the level of public awareness of Genetic Modification (GM) technology in Africa. This should be accomplished by educating the public about the potential benefits and risks that may be associated with this new technology.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Breuna Thomas Alabama State University “Sewage Pollution Problems and Policy Solutions� Mentor: Nefertiti Rutledge

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An ongoing issue in society affecting the public is sewage pollution and the policy solutions to cap that problem. Waterways around the world are being contaminated due to sewage pollution problems varying from 200 year old sewage systems, leaking/overloaded pipes, sewage overflows, and runoff pollutants such as fertilizer or gold mining runoff, to the rapidly outgrowing population. Due to the negligence of the Clear Water Act, counties around the world have suffered in different ways due to sewage pollution. Because of this ongoing problem, a gap is shown in the solution policy that must be resolved in order for history to not repeat itself. Amongst the case studies researched concerning sewage pollution and solution policy, data was collected showing the various counties from year to year that suffer with the same ongoing sewage pollution problems that has yet to be resolved.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Tamara Brown

The objective of this project is to identify the types of bacteria that are found inside a daycare. This information will be give the employers at the daycare, an idea of what type of bacteria are inside the daycare, so they will be able to find a chemical that will kill the bacteria effectively. It will also provide the parents of the children with the knowledge of the types of bacteria found inside the daycare that their children are getting exposed to. The way this study was performed was by; surveying the childcare center, brainstorming which surfaces to test, pouring the Mannitol Slat Tolerant (MST) and Eosin Methylene Blue (EMB) agar plates, collecting the samples, incubating the plates, and then recording the results. The results of the study were completely different from our hypothesis, which stated that the bacteria cultured as colony forming units will not differ significantly between areas of the facility with regards to location or activities associated with these locations. From the results there were more than five samples of bacteria with over one hundred colonies that were too numerous to count (TNTC), and over seven samples with five or more fungal growths. The results also showed traces of Staphylococcus Aureus and Escherichia Coli. The greatest amount of bacteria was found on cultures from the door handle in the bathroom interior, with the second highest amount being cultured from the top of the table. The results of this study were very significant because the employees of the daycare can now find a chemical to kill thosebacteria, and the parents of the children now know what types of bacteria their children are being exposed to.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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Arkansas State University “Bacteria Inside Daycares� Mentor: Janice Carter


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Kristen Millsap Arkansas State University “Turtle Abundance and Species Richness” Mentor: Jonathan Elston

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While spending much of their time underwater, the requirement by turtles to breathe air helps establishes turtle patterns that can be tracked by observers. Such specific requirements may at times correlate with the parameters of aquatic systems, such as system width, length, and depth. These system parameters were measured for segments of Turtle Creek in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 2012, where turtles were captured and tagged. More turtles were found in areas that were longer, deeper, and wider. Measured parameters of the creek were positively correlated with turtle abundance and species richness. For continued investigations, turtle traps will be set and additional monitoring will increase the accuracy of these estimates. This environmental issue is interesting because it deals with turtle abundance and species richness and how habitat quality and quantity may shape conditions for this relation. Turtle habitat requirements aren’t well known, so it’s interesting to measure the rangeof conditions changing with city growth and where turtles are found. As cities grow,where would the turtles go?

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Kelsey Vinson Arkansas State University “What is in the Air? An FTIR Analysis of Indoor Air Samples from Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR” Mentor: Sindhu Kaimal

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Have you ever thought about what is in the air you breathe every day? Most of it is Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide and Argon, but there are also various greenhouse gases that are present in very low concentrations. Some of these gases are Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, Water vapor, Nitrous oxide, and many others. Some of these gases absorb infrared radiation (heat) from the sun and thus prevents the heat from being reflected back into space, also known as greenhouse effect. Without the greenhouse effect, Earth could not support life. Since the industrial revolution in latter part of the 18th century, human activities have led to an increase of greenhouse gases. The increase of greenhouse gases has gradually caused an increase in the Earth’s temperature.In this research, a Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer was used to test ambient air from a spectroscopy lab, chemistry lab, and elevator. This was achieved by opening sample cylinders in each of the different rooms, then using the FTIR spectrometer and OMNIC software to analyze it. This research revealed that in all three rooms there was Carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane or formaldehyde. There was an unknown gas found in the elevator and the chemistry lab. The continuation of this project would be to measure quantity of the greenhouse gases. Different places such as places that allow smoking and/or automobiles would also be a good continuation.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Lydia Gonzolez Colorado State University “How Air Quality Affects Asthma” Mentors: Nicole Didero & Sarah Merritt

My hypothesis was not proven or disproven. In order to prove or disprove my hypothesis more data would have to be collected with a more sensitive and accurate air quality tester. Although the data did not prove that there is a significant problem with level of pollution outside of RMHS, I believe there is still a great amount of pollution being distributed around RMHS, and that this amount of pollution affects students’ asthma.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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My project studied air pollution around Rocky Mountain High School (RMHS) and investigated if there was a relationship between high levels of air pollution from cars and students' asthma symptoms. We collected data March 27-29 during different times of the day, morning, lunch and afternoon. We also surveyed students from different ages around RMHS asking about the kinds of transportation they use to and from RMHS, as well as any asthma conditions they may have or not. My project’s purpose was to investigate if the air quality around Rocky Mountain High School (RMHS) affects student’s health. In my experiment, we measured how much CO (carbon monoxide) was being distributed outside of and inside of Rocky Mountain High School, and looked at how the air quality was affected by the amount of car exhaust being spread. As RMHS is located on the Shields and Swallow intersection (which has a lot of car traffic throughout the day), this project is important because it could indicate that students who attend RMHS are more exposed to air pollution.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

3rd Place

Marcus Padia Colorado State University “The Front Range Community’s Perception on Wind Energy” Mentor: Tim Huber

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The Front Range is a large area in the northern Colorado region, which expands through many cities. Many places in the Front Range could use wind energy, thus leading to my research question: How does the Front Range community feel about wind energy? In addition to my research question, the accessibility to wind energy in the Front Range also lead to my hypothesis: The favorability of wind energy will vary on the area of the community. A survey was conducted, with the help of my mentor, to get the Front Range community’s perception on wind energy, specifically wind turbines. The survey consisted of several questions that related to my literary research. These questions help me get forty-nine different perspectives from participants from four different areas. The four areas were: Fort Collins, Loveland, Wellington, and Berthoud. Through these four areas there were twelve surveys taken from each location, with the exception of Fort Collins. The surveys were then run through a series of SPSS tests and multiple statistics tests. These tests aimed to determine if there was any statistical significance between age, gender, education, and location with the wind energy variables. The results disproved my hypothesis. Throughout this project I discovered that the Front Range community’s feelings towards wind energy do not change with the area, but with the participant.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Rodrigo Sepulveda Colorado State University “Greening the Gridiron: The Environmental Impacts of Artificial versus Natural Turf Fields� Mentors: Eric Shockley & Kate Wilkins

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Natural grass and artificial turf fields are two very different things, yet they are both used for the same purpose, but which one is better for the environment? My experiment was to see which one affected the environment negativelyby water usage, chemicals additives, and sustainability. I used two common types of grasses used on fields in Coloradoand watered them daily and measure the water absorption. The chemical output and sustainability of both field types were determined through background research. I concluded that at first it may seem better to have natural grass fields, but in the long run it uses a lot more water and maintaining it puts a lot of chemicals in the environment. While artificial turf at first takes a lot to make it and install but over time needs no maintenanceor water.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Stewart Gray

In the Anacostia region of Washington, DC, most residents have less access to health care, and the average air quality of the area tends to be close to, or below standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. This results in more people being born with, or contracting respiratory illnesses such as asthma. In order to test how much the people in this region are exposed to inadequate indoor air quality, we investigated the distribution of air pollutants in one of the city’s most active transportation systems.This experiment investigated air quality in Washington, DC Metro stations. Our main focus was to discover whether the Metro’s ventilation systems were working properly in removing the presence of common indoor air pollutants such as VOCs. Measurements for such pollutants were taken across five stations on two different days. At the end of our data collection, we discovered that the presence of indoor air pollution inside the underground stations, and inside the trains were low enough to not raise concern to its riders

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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DC EnvironMentors “Is the Metro a Culprit of Poor Air Quality?” Mentors: Ayana Johnson & Jennifer Riddell


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants Stewardship Award

Emma Johnson

The novel, Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, is a must read for anyone interested in the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. The information Carson presents is very true – pesticides may kill the bugs, but they also kill everything else around it and leave a much bigger mess than what you started with. There should be a healthier, safer alternative for both the people who handle the pesticides and the ecosystem as a whole, but where is it? Countries need to put in a strong effort to find a safer alternative to the commercial brands of pesticides on the market today – made of natural products to ensure the good health of everyone in the process. Through our experiment, we were looking to see how insecticides affect plants, and if the commercial products actually do the job advertised. We tested pea plants with aphids on them against a commercial brand of insecticide that kills many different types of insects versus a natural formula composed of garlic, soap, and water. The results of the experiment supported our hypothesis – that the natural insecticide would outperform the commercial insecticide. Both insecticides succeeded in killing off all of the insects in their section; however, the plants with the commercial insecticide required about twice as much water and residual powder could be clearly seen on the soil. Using our results as a guide for the world, economically, it does not make sense for a developing country to use commercial insecticides if the crops require more water than normal to survive. More water means more money, which some of these countries cannot afford, and more freshwater could to be put to better use. In addition, using plants with residues of pesticides left of them could cause serious health problems for anyone who comes in contact with the chemicals. A continuation of this experiment would be to test a variety of other plants, insects, and insecticides, to see which one out of a large group performs the best and would be able to serve large fields of crops effectively.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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DC EnvironMentors “Kill Those Pests… Naturally!” Mentor: Meghan Radtke


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants Energy Efficiency Award

Dakari McAdoo

There is tremendous heat loss in today’s homes. This is a problem because it is costing homeowners more money than needed to keep their homes comfortable. A home may be insulated, but a challenge may be deciding which insulation would do the best job of minimizing heat loss. The Department of Energy reports, 10,000 energy efficient homes will create $15 million worth of energy savings and prevent 71,000 tons of carbon emissions. Our assumption was that since the majority of homes use fiberglass insulation and there is still tremendous heat loss, fiberglass is to blame. The experiment was to find which type of insulation kept heat from escaping the slowest. My hypothesis for the experiment was that of all the insulations compared, fiberglass would be the least efficient at retaining heat because it is not considered sustainable. The results from the experiment showed the fiberglass more consistently retaining the highest temperature. In conclusion, the results obtained from the data disprove my hypothesis. In this experiment, the fiberglass proved to be more efficient than the ceramic paint, the foam board, and the reflective system.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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DC EnvironMentors “A Comparison of the Efficiency of Different Building Insulators� Mentor: Aaron Haifley


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Rabeeta Aroosh Kean University

Indoor and outdoor air pollutants can cause serious health problems due to particular matter, and gases, such as ozone (O3), nitrogen oxide (NO2), and carbon monoxide. Indoor air pollutants mainly originate from cleaning products, air fresheners, smoking (carbon monoxide), building, furnishing, carpets, adhesives, paints, houseplants, and toiletries which increase the levels of toxic air contaminants. Likewise, outdoor air pollutants threaten human health and cause environmental degradation, mainly an increase of greenhouse gases specifically carbon dioxide and ozone. The purpose of this experiment studied 1) the ozone levels of indoor air pollution compared to outdoor levels, 2) whether carbon dioxide levels of outdoor air pollutants are affected by the higher population density in the research locations of Newark and Elizabeth, 3) and Ozone and carbon dioxides impacts on health and the environment. My hypothesis was that there would be higher concentration levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Newark, due to the higher population density; whereas, Elizabeth’s lower population density should have lower CO2 levels. Also, as CO2 increases the temperature will increase. Furthermore, the ozone concentration will be higher indoor than outdoor.Ozone Test Sticks were used to measure the ambient levels of ozone air in indoor as well as outdoor. The concentration of carbon was measured in outdoor areas using the GLX probe at Newark Penn Station, Newark Liberty International Airport, and Elizabeth. Also, two types of demographic questionnaires—with indoor and outdoor questions— were created with the goal of investigating whether or not exposure to indoor and outdoorair pollutant increases the chance of developing respiratory problems. The researched showed a relationship between temperature and CO2 levels in Newark Penn-Station. However, the concentration levels of CO2 were not obtained due to limitations during the study. Likewise, indoor ozone levels were not high, which lead to rejecting the stated hypothesis.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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“Ozone Depletion: The Concentration of Carbon Dioxide and Ozone and Impacts on the Environment and Human Health”


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Mariam KatuBinti

Annoyance noise, or environmental noise, has a lot of negative impacts on humans. These include several factors, such as changing human attitude and personal trait toward the noise sources. Noise sensitivity is divided into two groups: the moderate and mediator groups of noise annoyance. Noise annoyance can lead to sleep disturbances and it also has mental and physical health effects. It has a very negative affect on the human body, causing it to begin secreting hormones, such as adrenaline, which put unnecessary stress on the body and could increase the level of blood pressure in the human body. Noise annoyance can lead to sleep disturbances and it also has mental and physical health effects. The hypothesis was that noise pollution irritates and distracts the entire neighborhood and those who live near the airport. In order to find the results for this project, the equipment used was the Easy Sense which measured sound in dba (decibel). The experiment was done at four places: Newark Airport, Pine Street, Caldwell Place, and Birch Avenue to determine if there was a difference in noise levels between those places. High noise levels could affect everyone, and also impact the nervous system and disrupt the activities or balance of human and animal life. The hypothesis was accepted, as the results were accurate. The average noise a human can handle is 40dBA, but the results near the Newark Airport were higher than the average noise dBA. The other 3 places (Pine Street, Caldwell Street, and Birch Ave) were about average. These 3 places were found to be least affected of the noise.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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Kean University “Noise Pollution�


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

KaylahStraughan

When we aimlessly throw trash onto the street, do we think about the outcome of our carelessness? That trash goes into our oceans and eventually back into our homes. The purpose of this project is to inform people about pollution in storm drains and the quality of water. In Elizabeth, NJ, I observed the storm drains by Mattano Park, where most of the teens hang out. My hypothesis was that Pollution in storm drains negatively affects both people and marine life in numerous ways and that water quality is good in Elizabeth River and Elizabeth, Arthur Kill. In the Elizabeth neighborhood park, Mattano Park, most of the storm drains were filled with garbage and some were clean. In Mattano Park in Elizabeth, NJ, there was garbage like paper bags, plastic bottles, and candy wrappers. I checked the storm drains by the Elizabeth Waterfront, and it turned out pretty clean. I tested the water from Mattano Park and the Elizabeth Waterfront for pH, dissolved oxygen, NH3, P, and Turbidity. For both Mattano Park and the Elizabeth Waterfront, the level of pH was 7, which means that it is neutral. They both also had 0 ppm for the level of dissolved oxygen, therefore the water can’t support life. For the ammonia (NH3) level, the Elizabeth Waterfront was 1 ppm and Mattano Park was between 1 and 3 ppm. The level for phosphate for both locations was 0.1 ppm. The turbidity level was 40 JTU for both Mattano Park and the Elizabeth Waterfront.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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Kean University “Storm Drain Condition”


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants Biodiversity and Wildlife Award

Elizabeth Johnston Heritage University “The Effects of Nitrates Bullfrog Tadpole Growth and Development� Mentor: Heather Simmons-Rigdon

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This experiment was inspired from the area I live in which is very rural and often uses nitrate based fertilizers during agricultural practices. During irrigation season, water runoff takes suspended sediments, nutrients, and nitrates into the Yakima River. To test the effects of these practices I set up an experiment where two tanks of bull frog tadpoles were compared that were exposed to different levels of nitrates (5 mg/L of and 15 mg/L of sodium nitrate). The result of this experiment showed that tadpoles exposed to 5 mg/L of nitrates grew slower, yet more consistent and developed more quickly. Tadpoles exposed to 15 mg/L of nitrates grew quicker at first but tapered off and were not as big as the other group by the end of the experiment and they were also farther behind in their developmental stage. This suggests that nitrates do have some effects on tadpole development.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

1st Place

Arianna Wildflower Heritage University “Nitrates in White Swan Wells� Mentor: Kazuhiro Sonoda

In order to determine the amount of nitrates in White Swan Well waters I performed two tests. First I collected 14 samples from different houses that had well water and kept them in refrigerated bags. I also collected a sample of city water for a comparison and my control was a sample of distilled water. The first test I did was just a rough field test using the LaMotte Nitrate kit, Model NCL so I could get an idea of the situation with the wells. That test yielded results in the form of color change: no change meant no nitrates and an increased scale of pink tint means higher amount of nitrates. The second test I did was an exact test done in a laboratory with the Easy ChemPlus Discrete Analyzer (manufactured by SYSTEA Analytical Technology). Using a spectrometer, which analyzing by light, it changed the water color and then shot light through the mixture and measure how much came out the other end. The darker the mixture the less light got through, the more nitrates.In the field test seven (7) out of fourteen (14) samples had no color change. Five (5) out of (14) were lightly tinted and two (2) out of fourteen (14) were pink. The laboratory yielded much the same results with a mean of .419 and a standard deviant of .321. All of the laboratory results were within the safety limit of 10ppm; with the highest sample being 1.059ppm and the lowest being a zero (0). My hypothesis was incorrect because all of the samples were in the safety zone of 10ppm.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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Many areas around White Swan have problems with nitrates but White Swan did not have research on their nitrate levels. Test kits were sent out to houses in my local community asking residents to test their water and send the results in. Yakima and other affluent towns have extraordinarily high levels of nitrates in their water, but they have more money and are more able to deal withpollution problems. My town of White Swan has little money and has little means to accomplish changes. If areas that have more money and can deal with problems still have high levels of nitrates then how will my poor, restricted community look in comparison?


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Markeisha Hill Louisiana State University “Same Lake, but Different Stories: How does Traffic Affect the Health of the Sediments?� Mentors: Dr. Crystal Johnson & Qiang Yao

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There are several parks around the LSU University Lake. Some are heavily trafficked, others are not. In my experiment, I wanted to determine if the amount of traffic will have any influences on the soil’s nutrient and bacteria level, particularly E.coli. Sediments are considered to be healthy when they contain certain amounts of nutrients, ions, and bacteria. As memorial park has more foot traffic than City Park, I hypothesize that Memorial Park has fewer nutrients, higher bacteria content and higher Carbonate levels. Samples were taken from two separate parks located at LSU lakes. The Memorial Park is classified as high-traffic area, and the City Park is classified as low traffic area. The high water and organic content in the samples from the City Park may have caused the high bacteria counts and high nutrient levels. The high carbonate and low nutrient levels in the Memorial Mark may be due to the amount of traffic and the litter made by runners and park goers. The test results supported my hypothesis that the high traffic area would have fewer nutrients, but not my hypothesis that it would have more bacteria.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Alexis Johnson Louisiana State University “Can Fish Stomach Our Trash? “ Mentors: Kari Klotzbach & Grace Harwell

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Every day dead fish are found washed up on beaches. I was curious whether common pollutants such as, plastic, aluminum and rubber bands, could possibly have an effect on the growth and survival of fish. I hypothesize that fish growth and survival rates will decline in the presence of pollutants.In this study, I wanted to test how pollutants affect fish growth and survival rates. Three different pollutants (plastic, aluminum, and rubber bands) were fed to Goldfish in addition to fish food. Some fish were interested in eating the plastic and rubber bands, however it appeared that only the rubber bands were consumed and the plastic was spit back out. No fish died so the survival rates were not affected by the pollutants. Growth did not appear to be affected by pollutants, but there were experimental errors associated with growth measurements. Further research would help advance knowledge on this subject.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Torrance Thomas Louisiana State University “Helio-tracker: Improving Photovoltaic Efficiency� Mentors: Ben Branoff & Heather Spindel

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Solar energy is a clean, renewable resource that can be used in the U.S. Because solar cells work better with the more sunlight they have, increasing the amount of sunlight available to a solar cell can increase the efficiency. This can be accomplished by using a helio-tracker, a solar panel that follows the sun. Selfsufficient heliotrackers allow people who do not have access to electricity to have power.In this study, I compared a helio-tracking solar panel solar panel to a stationary by stimulating the sun and recording measurements every 15°. I found that the helio-tracker was 126% more efficient than the solar panel. Because the helio-tracker receives more direct sunlight, it was 126% more efficient than the stationary panel, on average. This means that power output could be significantly increased by using helio-trackers. Although a helio-tracker might generate more power than a stationary panel, another option to look into would be to use multiple mirrors to concentrate light on a single panel. Our attempt to make a helio-tracker was very difficult. This means that providing helio-trackers will be more difficult than stationary solar panels.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants Aquatic Research Award

Sean Beatty

Streams are a vital part of aquatic ecosystems in North Carolina, providing drinking water for humans and animals and supporting life for aquatic organized. These benefits are lost if the quality of the water is impacted; for example from storm water run-off and other pollutants. Starting in 1997, the State of North Carolina created special laws to protect stream water quality. These laws require buffer zones be placed between streams and construction or developed sites along streams in the Neuse River basin (and since then in other river basins). Protected stream buffer zones are fifty feet wide areas of forest vegetation where construction is not allowed or is severely limited. This project is designed to evaluate how well these buffer zones protect aquatic life in streams against pollution. Macro-invertebrates insect larvae were collected and identified from three types of streams: an un-buffered urban stream or a stream not in compliance with the law, a buffered stream in compliance with the law, and a control reference stream undisturbed by construction. The abundance and diversity of macro-invertebrates from each stream was determined in order to decide how well the macro-invertebrates are flourishing as an indication of the quality of the water and whether or not the buffer zones in North Carolina actually protect urban streams. It is hypothesized that the macro-invertebrates in the buffered sites will be more abundant and diverse compared to the urban site without buffered zone laws in place. This project will help determine if buffer zones in North Carolina actually protect the water quality of urban streams.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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North Carolina State University “Do Buffer Zones Protect Urban Streams?� Mentor: John Dorney


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Lencia Holmes

At the present-day, one of the most immediate problems we are being forced to deal with is globalclimate change, which has resulted from the drastic increase in greenhouse gases being emittedinto our atmosphere including: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane, and CFCs/HCFCs. Toreduce the amount of harmful by-products released by the burning of fossil fuels, the use ofnonrenewable resources to generate energy should be replaced with a renewable source ofenergy. Solar power provides clean energy and can drastically reduce the need for nonrenewableenergy resources. The setback for having an abundant use of solar power is that the solar panelsneeded to generate the energy can prove to be excessively large investments for the averageconsumer who would use them to power their homes. The purpose of this research is to determine which conditions will produce the greatest amountof electricity when applied to a functioning solar panel. If a particular condition will result inmore energy being generated by a solar panel, then scientists and manufacturers can begin tocreate solar panels that more efficient respond to that condition and are less expensive for atypical consumer. The conditions monitored for the purposes of this project were: what time ofday the panel generated the greatest amounts of energy; what weather conditions promoted thegreatest amounts of energy generated by the panel; and which light wavelengths generatedgreater amounts of energy. After performing six separate trials during the month of February, itwas determined that time of day had the greatest effect on the amount of energy generated by thesolar panel. The weather conditions also influenced how much energy was generated, though thedifferent light wavelengths did not appear to greatly affect the energy production.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

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North Carolina State University “Improving the Efficiency of Solar Panels for Widespread Residential Use� Mentor: Marcie Longo


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants Policy Research Award

Abhilash Pyreddy

Approximately 700 or more landfills that are pre-regulatory or older than January 1, 1983 have been identified in North Carolina alone. An analysis of all of these landfills indicates that these landfills have a total combined waste disposal footprint is about 9,000 acres of land and more than 50,000 acres of land or property are affected from these landfills. These landfills release methane, carbon dioxide, and other biogases. Various forms of chemicals and even harmful pollutants are discharged to the state’s land and water and ground systems. All of these harmful factors lead to a threat for the environment and human health. To clean up all of North Carolina’s pre-regulatory or older than January 1, 1983 landfills would cost billions of tax payers’ money. This is study is focused on the historical record of landfills in North Carolina from the period of 1890 to 1985. The result of this study indicates that after the Great Depression the growth rate of landfills in North Carolina was increases at an exponential rate. The average L/D ratio or the affected land size vs. the waste disposal area in acres in North Carolina is 7:1, which means that for every one acre of waste disposal area the amount of acres in affected land size is 7 acres.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page23

North Carolina State University “Old Landfills in North Carolina and their Environmental Challenges” Mentor: Dr. Zach Chen


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants Env. Health Award

Angelica Cervantes

In everyday life, people use antibacterial products to sanitize their homes. Some of the common active ingredients in household cleaning products are thymol, lactic acid, sodium hypochlorite, and ethanol (e.g. active ingredient in some hand sanitizers). The purpose of our experiment was to determine if antibacterial products lost effectiveness in killing common bacteria in everyday environments after repeated use. This is an important environmental issue because if these products are losing effectiveness, then our common living areas are not being properly sanitized and this could lead to more illnesses caused by the bacteria. The hypothesis in this study is that thymol will lose its effectiveness to kill bacteria after repeated treatments because it originates from natural herbal compounds that are constantly exposed to bacteria; therefore some bacteria may already have some tolerance to it. Bacteria from our hands were cultivated in a nutrient rich media and treated with four different antibacterial products, which include the active ingredients of thymol, lactic acid, sodium hypochlorite, and ethanol (e.g. hand sanitizer), respectively. The treatments were applied by soaking a stack of ten circular filter papers with a seven millimeter diameter on a recently inoculated plate. The repeated measures were made by cultivating bacteria from the previously treated plate into a new plate and treating it with the same active ingredient, from which it originated. The kill zone was measured after allowing the bacteria to grow for 48 hours. After two repeated treatments, our results showed that some antibacterial products’ kill zones decreased. Thymol’s kill zone showed a higher decreasing trend than the other antibacterial products. The experiment is still in progress, two more repeated measures of the kill zone will be taken. So far, the results indicate that there are differences in the effectiveness of killing bacteria after repeated treatments between the active ingredients. The reasons for these differences between the active ingredients could be due to their mode of action, which has been supported by the data so far. To prevent the buildup of tolerance it is suggested to change the cleaning product with a different active ingredient after a period of time.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page24

University of California-Davis “Effectiveness of Different Antibacterials on Killing Bacteria” Mentor: Miguel Macias Gonzalez


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Matt Gattie

Drinking fountains are a part of the high school student’s normal environment. Since fountains are used frequently by a large population, and may be exposed to bodily fluids such as saliva and mucus during use, they may serve as a vector for disease. Additionally, microbes may already be in the source water before exiting the fountain. However, microbes originating from both fixture and water supply contamination may be benign or pathenogenic. We surveyed what microbes could be found in the water obtained from a randomly selected drinking fountain. This experiment suggested what genera or species of bacteria are present in the water originating from a drinking fountain at Woodland High School. Three, 10 liter water samples were collected and filtered, and DNA was extracted with a DNA Isolation Kit from MoBio. Subsequently, the 16s rRNA gene from the samples was amplified with PCR, using universal 16s primers. These amplicons were ligated into plasmids and used to create a clone library from competent cells (E. coli). Approximately 30 clones were selected and the 16s genes were sequenced at the UC Davis sequencing facility using Sanger sequencing. Analysis of the sequencing data reveals a mix of genera that contain mainly benign or a few pathenogenic species (Nocardia, Mycobacteria). Additionally, several sequences did not have matches in 16s bacterial databases. These results confirm that public fixtures such as these may be a point of infection, particularly for those who have weakened immune systems.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page25

University of California-Davis “A Microbial Survey of Water Obtained from a High School Drinking Fountains” Mentor: Sean Gilmore


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Shyla Potter

Animal behavior is important to our understanding of how animals are adapted to their environment. One important aspect of this is defensive behavior, which is an animal’s reaction to natural predators and humans. Many studies have examined how defensive responses differ within individual animals, and how they occur within a species. However studies have not yet related the strength of defensive responses to characteristics of groups of species. In this study, individuals of 17 different wild-caught invertebrate species across 4 phyla were observed, they were prodded in the mouth, and their startle response and time until recovery of normal behavior were recorded. Results showed that different invertebrate species and different individuals within a species have significantly different startle responses and recovery times. However, defensive responses did not strongly relate to characteristics of the individual or of the single species. Instead, startle responses were strongly related to characteristics of groups of these species. Specifically, species at the same trophic level and species in the same phylum had similar startle response times. This suggests that invertebrate startle responses are not due to short-term individual adjustment to the environment. Instead, startle responses could be the result of long-term adaptations to a certain lifestyle, constrained by body form. This helps explain how and why animals react in certain ways to threats, and even to the threat of people. National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page26

University of California- Davis “Poke! A Study of Defenses in the Sea� Mentor: Olivia Rhoades


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Jamie Wright

Greenhouse gases are atmospheric gases that absorb and emit radiation through the thermal infrared range. Many different factors increase greenhouse gases, such as the decrease in plant growth. We decided to design an experiment based on the factor of plant growth with relations to nutrient availability; we considered if the nutrient availability of plants would affect the gain or loss of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. We hypothesized that if a plant has greater nutrient availability, then the plant will take in more carbon dioxide. We developed a four treatment experiment with three replications of each. The four treatments were water only (no plant), plant and water (no nutrients), full nutrient treatment (10 drops of fertilizer per week), and half nutrient treatment (5 drops of fertilizer per week). To be able to find the amount of carbon dioxide the plants took in we used our measurements and then inserted them into the equation: 〖  〗_2= (   −(  ∗ )/(  +[ +] )− /[ +] +[ +])/( 1/([ +])+(2∗ 1∗ 2)/([ +]∗[ +])). The result of our experiment was not what our hypothesis had predicted. Instead of the pH in the jars increasing with more nutrients, the water in the jars with the most nutrients actually had the lowest pH. The water from the plants that had half nutrients and no nutrients both had the highest pH. Our results were unexpected because we thought nutrient availability would have had a greater effect on the plants, because we thought the plants with more nutrients would have grown larger and been able to take in more carbon dioxide.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page27

University of California- Davis “Effects of Nutrient Availability with the Intake of CO2” Mentors: Alison Marklein & Kathryn Gialketsis


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Kasmika Maharjan University of Nebraska- Lincoln “Effect of Oil on Stressed Kidney Beans” Mentor: Carla Alshwede

Page28

In this project, we researched how oil effects stressed kidney beans. We started with the question: How does oil affect plants? In beginning of the experiment, the plants were all healthy. But, then, the plants went through a period of drought, leaving the plants with mixed health. From there, the question was changed to: How will oil effect stressed plants? I hypothesized that the plants would all die, semi-healthy or really stressed, after the first treatment of oil, but I was wrong. After the first treatment, there were no signs of stress that the oil might have caused. The real effects of the oil were not seen until after the third treatment. We also observed that the plants must have a tolerance level to the oil, and the healthier the plant, the more tolerant it is to the oil. Some of our very healthy plants that had the highest level of oil treatment still were very healthy and produced beans before the third treatment. The only plant that died during this experiment was a control plant, and this was because the plant was naturally small and couldn’t live with the stress.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Ahmed Mohamed

Recent research has shown that through the years the ozone layer has been depleted, resulting in an increase in ultra violet (UV) radiation on the surface of the Earth.Duckweed has been shown to be adversely affected by ultra violet (UV) radiation. This study seeks to show how UV exposure times affected the growth rate. We exposed duckweed to 0, 0.5, or 1 hour of treatments under UV lamp. We allowed our duckweed to recover from the treatment under a halogen light. We counted the number of fronds after one day and one week. While there was no significant difference after one day for recovery, our results suggest that the growth rate of duckweed significantly increased after one hour of treatment with a recovery time of one week. This was because the growth rate of fronds is too slow to reach a conclusive statistical point in one day. However, when examining duckweed in one week our results indicate that there was a statistical different between the 3 subgroups. The longer the UV treatment showed a faster growth rate. The production of fronds increases the population of the duckweed colony. Since earlier studies have shown that UV radiation induces stress in duckweed these plants are reproducing in order to survive the UV induced stress.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page29

University of Nebraska-Lincoln “UV Exposure to Duckweed, Lemnoiceae� Mentor: Anthony L. Nguy-Robertson


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Andy Ngo

Throughout the world, large bodies of water have become so polluted that they lack enough oxygen to support life. This condition is known as hypoxia (commonly referred to as “dead zones”). The condition of hypoxia is generally a natural occurrence, but recent studies have shown drastic increases in areas affected by human activities. Hypoxia is the result of outbreaks of algae (these outbreaks are generally stimulated from nitrogen-based products) that consume vast amounts of oxygen. There are several nitrogen-based products throughout the world to help stimulate the growth of algae and many of them can be found inside our very own home. The original hypothesis was that these common household items would have little effect on the water to be tested. The results did not support the expected; rather, what was discovered was effects common households items can have in the creation hypoxia. The results show that 75ml of Miracle-Gro® in 200ml of water has major effects in the dissolved oxygen, phosphate, and nitrate concentrations when compared with concentrations of the controls. Additionally, 75ml of fabric softener in 200ml of water drastically affects both the dissolved oxygen and phosphate concentrations, and has a smaller influence on nitrate concentrations. Combining a literature review with my experimental results did, however, address how Hypoxia can be prevented by minimizing the use of fertilizers and managing them properly.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page30

University of Nebraska – Lincoln “The Effects of Common Household Items on Hypoxia” Mentor: Danielle Haak


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

2nd Place

Kaveen Herath Bandara

Low pH has a big effect on Crayfish mortality rate. There are many known effects of low pH on crayfish, such as how low pH will soften the crayfish shell as the shell is made out of calcium carbonate, which is known to react to acid. Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) can cause Low pH. Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a major problem to aquatic life forms and AMD is known to degrade water quality. AMD can even make water reach pH values as low as 2 but the most common pH value in AMD affected water is 4. In this study the effect of low pH on crayfish mortality was tested. The crayfish used for the experiment was Orconectesobscurus, which is also known as theAllegheny Crayfish. In the experiment Orconectesobscurus were put in 2 different pH values, pH 7, as the control and pH 3.8, as the AMD affected water ( the pH 3.8 was used to replicate conditions from Everhart Seep, MD, which is affected by AMD). In the experiment 50 crayfish were put in 10 tanks, 5 tanks for each pH value. The 5 tanks for each pH value were used as 5 trials for each pH value. The experiment was done for 8 days. At the end of the experiment 40% of the Orconectesobscurus population had died in low pH and only 24% of the Orconectesobscurus in pH 7 had died. According to the results compared to pH 7, low pH increases the crayfish mortality rate by 16%.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page31

West Virginia State University “Low pH Effects on Allegany Crayfish (Orconectesobscurus) Mortality� Mentors: Daniel Hank & Gabe Stain


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants Atmospheric Research Award

Emma Mathers

Coal-fired power plants are responsible for nearly 27% of the United States’ atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions which often result in acidified precipitation that contains high levels of dissolved ions. The Appalachian area, with its large coal deposits, is a hotspot for coal-fired power plants. Therefore, this region is at a potential risk for atmospheric pollution and acidified, nitrified, and ionized rain, all of which can have a multitude of detrimental effects on water quality and ecosystems of the surrounding area. This project looks at how the quality of rainfall is affected by greenhouse gas emissions from three major coalfired power plants (Longview, Fort Martin, and Morgantown Energy Facility at WVU) in the Morgantown, WV area. We conducted three precipitation-collection trials, with collection sites in seven specified areas; two upwind controls, one proximal site, and four downwind test sites. After each collection trial, the samples were tested for pH levels, nitrate levels, and electrical conductivity, with specialized probe meters for each. We hypothesized that pH levels would be lower (more acidic), in the downwind and proximal samples, while nitrate levels and electrical conductivity would be higher. Slightly acidic pH levels were found in rainwater that was collected downwind of the power plants, but it was just barely outside of the neutral range (with the lowest collected pH level being 5.84). The controls (upwind of the three focus plants) possessed more neutral pH levels (6.18-7.58). The electrical conductivity levels, a measurement of electrolytic ions dissolved in the rainwater, actually presented us with results opposite of what we had hypothesized. Higher electrical conductivity (E.C.) levels were found in the upwind samples, as opposed to lower E.C. levels in the downwind samples (434.7 compared to18.3 µS/cm, respectively). The nitrate levels were found to be within the normal range (0.1-4 mg/L,) with no significant disparity between the upwind, downwind and proximal samples. We proved our hypothesis, in regard to pH, but disproved it, regarding electrical conductivity and nitrate levels, because E.C. levels were higher in upwind samples, while nitrate levels were roughly the same across all samples.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

Page32

West Virginia State University “How do Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants Affect the Quality of Downwind Rainwater?” Mentor: Jessica Odenheimer


EnvironMentors National Science Fair 2012 Competition Participants

Heather Strahin West Virginia State University “Nosema Infestation in Various Honey Bee (Apismellifera) breeds and the Effect of Nosema Infestation on Beekeeper Perception of Colony Strength” Mentors: Eric Miller & Dustin Smith

Page33

Nosema is a microsporidian parasite that infests the midgut of honey bees (Apismellifera). I investigated the effect of Nosema spore count on perceived colony strength, and the effect of honey bee breed on spore count. This type of information could help beekeepers make informed decisions regarding Nosema testing and which honey bee breed may be more resistant to Nosema. In order to investigate this, samples were collected from different honey bee colonies across Northern West Virginia and the bees were categorized, processed, and treated with a Nosema mixture and then they were analyzed for Nosema spore counts grown from each sample. The average spore counts were found for each honey bee breed represented in the samples, and for each level of perceived hive strength (good, fair, and poor). The highest level of Nosema infestation occurred in feral bees and bees that came from colonies that the beekeeper rated as “fair.” The lowest levels occurred in bees that came from colonies the beekeeper rated as “good,” as well as the Palmer and Wooten Gold breeds. These results stress the need for the beekeeper to test their bees before treatment, and illustrate that some honey bee breeds show higher levels of Nosema infection than others. In order to substantiate these results, more research with larger sample sizes and varying climates must be conducted.

National Fair Participants represent the top winning students from each chapter.

2012 EnvironMentors Student Abstract Book  

Abstract Book

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