Once again this year, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sent representatives to the annual Loudoun County Regional Science & Engineering Fair (RSEF).
This is the 32nd year for this event, which brings together High School students from all 13 High Schools to show their school science projects and to be judged both for Category awards and Special awards.
This year saw 187 exhibits in 17 categories; a broad cross-section of students with projects ranging from Aerodynamics to Water Quality.
A group of seven from Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, led by Marcia Weidner, spent the day evaluating the exhibits to select winners for the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Special Award.
After reviewing all 187 exhibits, and interviewing the students at 17 of the exhibits, we determined three winners based on their application of scientific research principles to projects relevant to Loudoun County, Nature and Conservation.
First Prize of $350 was given to a pair of Seniors from Loudoun Valley High School. Cara Broshkevitch and Anne Richards worked together on a project entitled “A Future with no Landfills,” researching environmentally-sustainable ways to biodegrade high-density polyethelene plastic (HDPE) from grocery bags, using various combinations of manganese stearate, thermal radiation, a fungus, and two bacteria.
Second Prize of $250 was awarded to Mohini Singh, a Senior from Briar Woods High School, for a project showing “The effect of Wolbachia (bacterium) on the Apis mellifera (honeybee) Population.” Her study involved collecting dead bees from a sampling of honeybee hives, and using DNA PCR testing to analyze the presence of Wolbachia in each hive, as a predictor of Colony Collapse Disorder.
Third Prize of $150 was given to Christopher Whimpenny, a Freshman from Broad Run High School, for his project on “The Effect of Housing Development Age on Soil Organic Carbon in Suburban Developments in Loudoun County, Virginia.” This study involved taking a large number of soil samples from each of a large number of areas in Loudoun County, and analyzing the percentage of organic carbon in each sample in a lab. This was then cross-referenced to the age of the housing development when land-clearing occurred, to graph the amount of Carbon which is present in the soil initially, and then over the subsequent years.
Each years’ Science Fair is open to the general public in the evening, after judging is complete, and it can be a very enjoyable few hours touring these exhibits just to see the quality of work, and the wide range of interest, of tomorrow’s scientists.
The winners of the Science Fair will put their exhibits on display at the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Annual Meeting on May 19th and they will be presented with their checks during the business part of the meeting.
Thanks to all the students and their mentors for another great science fair!