Excellent Projects – Students Excelling

By Harvey Fries and Alisha Claycamp

The 62nd Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair Intermediate Level Environmental and Renewable Energy projects were excellent. Chemists from Region 7 USEPA Science and Technology Center, Kansas City, Kansas awarded the agency’s first place in this category to a team from Lakewood Middle School, Overland Park, KS. Team members from left to right in the picture are Faduma Jarik, Hollis Haby, and Katherine Krishna.

Their project title was “The Effect of Hydrophobic Materials Resolving Freshwater Oil Spills”. Their abstract:

Many freshwater oil spills are ruining our waters. They are more common than saltwater oil spills and are causing more damage. We thought that hydrophobic materials would soak up the oil and it is hypothesized that: the hydrophobic sand will soak up the most oil in our freshwater oil spill simulation.
Our procedure was to gather all the materials and put 1 cup of water and half a cup of oil in a beaker, then put in half a cup of one of the 4 hydrophobic materials (hydrophobic sand, wax , lotus leaves, Fibertect) in the simulation. Wait 15 minutes. Record the results of how much oil was soaked up by the material. Repeat for 2 more trials and repeat again for the other three materials. Unlike the hypothesis stated above, the Fibertect soaked up the most oil, lotus leaves soaked up the oil second best, wax soaked it up third best, and the hydrophobic sand soaked up the least oil. Therefore, our results do not support the hypothesis. We think it happened this way because the Fibertect has more layers than any other material we tested. The hydrophobic sand was very thin unlike the other materials and couldn’t hold much oil.

Hollis Haby is a sixth grader at Lakewood Middle School in Overland Park, KS. She lives with her parents, brother, two cats, and one dog. Hollis’ favorite activities are playing softball and volleyball. Her future plans are to be a middle school reading teacher.

Faduma Jarik is a sixth grader at Lakewood Middle School in Overland Park, KS. She lives with her parents, brother, sister, and step-brother. Faduma’s favorite activities are playing on her i-Pod and being outside. Her future plans are to be a writer in the professional world.

Katherine Krishna is a sixth grader at Lakewood Middle School in Overland Park, KS. She lives with her parents and brother. Katherine’s favorite activities are playing soccer and reading. Her future plans are to become an investment banker and to be rich.

Second place went to a team from Martin City Elementary, Kansas City, MO. Team members were Rosa Basurto-Reyes and Iridian Zurita-Lopez. Their project was titled “Effects of Acids & Bases on Plants”.

Third place in this category went to a team from St. Patrick School in Kansas City, MO. Team members were Chance Wagner and Peter Pellumbi. Their project was titled “Comparing Electrical Usage and Cost of Three Different 60 Watt Light Bulbs.


You can also check out the High School and Middle School winners. We had a really difficult time deciding on our top three science projects, a testament to how hard each of the students had worked.Maybe someday we will be lucky enough to have some of these bright kids come to work for EPA. Until then we can probably count on many more years of great projects from these budding scientists.

Harvey Fries and Alisha Claycamp are chemists with the Chemical Analysis and Response Branch of the Environmental Services Division, located at EPA Region 7′s Science and Technology Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

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