Eight students from the Westside Middle School Academy STEM program took home prizes at the CT Science & Engineering Fair held on March 11 at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.
For the past three years, WSMSA, led by science teacher and theme coach Jon Neuhausel, has been one of the top three middle school in the state in terms of winning entries. The WSMSA students were among the 647 students from 120 middle and high schools from Connecticut, Fishers Island and New York competing in the 70th annual fair for more than $200,000 in prizes.
The following eighth-grade students at Westside and their projects:
Timothy Chen, “Effect of Spiral Spacing on Conversion Efficiency of Horizontal Axis Spiral Wind Turbine.”
Paloma Lenz, “Stormwater Pollution: The Effectiveness of Zeolites in Decreasing Levels of Nitrates in Runoff.”
Mathew Mathew, “Impact of Natural and Chemical Preservatives to Extend the Shelf Life of Apple Cider.”
Khushi Parikh, “Image Recognition to Diagnose Lyme Disease.”
Stephanie Queiroz, “How Does Bacteriophage Phi x 174 affect with E. coli Differently than Bacteriophage MS2?”
Vincent Trombetto, “A Study on Angiosperm Xylem Based Sucrose Filtration Systems.”
Alex Morquecho, “How Can Forest Fires Help Soil Regain Nutrition and Let the Plants Grow Taller.”
Stella Walker, “The Effect of Barometric Pressure on the Speed of WiFi.”
Vincent said through his project, he learned that trees can be used someday to filter contaminants from water; he is eager to learn more about a natural process. His classmate Mathew’s project also included natural solutions to problems: “I want to spread awareness about the dangers of using chemical preservatives – natural ones are just as a good.”
Stephanie used different methods to determine whether a particular bacteriophage was more effective than another. Since her laboratory work involved using potentially more dangerous substances, she worked in a supervised lab at the school with precautions for safety and disposal.
“The hardest part was counting the plaque because there were so many, and it was hard to take a picture,” Stephanie said.
Alex simulated forest fires in pots set outside on his home’s back deck. He had originally wanted to investigate how dry trees are using robotics to prevent forest fires but didn’t have enough available resources. By igniting fires with burn times of 80, 100, 120 and 140 minutes, Alex learned that the longer fires left behind more nutrient soil.
“Our students’ success at the CT Science & Engineering Fair demonstrates how dedicated-learning in a project-based environment can lead to high levels of success,” said WSMSA principal Dr. Frank LaBanca. “Having worked directly with the students on these projects, I can confidently say that they are being prepared well for the responsibilities of college, career and civic life. They are true innovators.”