Environmentalism fuels Science Fair

Many students create green projects that look to the future.

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The 21st annual Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Science and Engineering Fair took place in the MVRHS cafeteria last Friday and Saturday. 

Two sophomore students, Kristin Perzanowski and Ingid Moore, attempted to make biodegradable shampoo out of natural ingredients found on the Island. They used agar, a type of algae, to produce shampoo pods, similar to Tide pods used in washing machines. The shampoo pod experiment resulted in a beige-colored goo that wasn’t as neat as pods found in stores. 

Junior Owen Steencamp built a self-regulated and solar-powered hydroponics system.

Twenty-two students from grades 9 through 12 participated in the fair, with experiments and projects of every type, which were judged by professional scientists and engineers. 

The fair stimulated the interests of students in science and math, provided them with a rich educational experience, resulted in public recognition and awards, and gave students an opportunity to interact with professional scientists. 

Projects were divided into two categories: investigative projects and engineering design projects. Investigative projects focused on background research and analysis of data, while engineering projects were product-based or process-based.

Projects ranged from making nontoxic paint to the effects of ocean acidity on scallops. Many of those who participated in the science fair focused on projects pertaining to the environment. 

Ingrid Moore, whose experiment was centered on producing a greener, healthier shampoo, said, “My favorite part of the fair is the environmental aspect. So much plastic is wasted; I am trying to produce the lowest carbon footprint.” 

Many of the students who participated looked forward to being judged by professional scientists. “I love science and creating projects. I really looked forward to being able to work with scientists through the fair,” said Moore. 

Fair judges included science and engineering professionals from organizations such as Felix Neck, the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, VIneyard Conservation Society, Tisbury Waterways, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and more. Fair coordinator and science teacher Jason Neago began the awards ceremony by conducting a raffle benefiting the fair participants. Prizes included gift cards to restaurants and stores across the Island. After the raffle, Neago presented multiple awards to students, most of which were sponsored by community organizations or foundations. 

Sophomore Henry D’Andrea won first place in the engineering project category, and won the Overall Science and Engineering fair award, for his project on “Powering Sails in Space.” The first-place winner for the Investigative Project category was freshman Annabelle Brothers, for her project on “The Effects of Ocean Acidity on Scallops.” Many of the students who did not receive awards, or received smaller ones, were happy just to have participated in the fair. 

“It was a good experience being able to meet the judges and inform people on my project,” Perzanowski said.

Science Fair results

Overall Science and Engineering Fair winner: Henry D’Andrea, “Powering Sails in Space”

First place, Investigative Project: Annabelle Brothers, “The Effects of Ocean Acidity on Scallops”

First place, Engineering Project: Henry D’Andrea, “Powering Sails in Space”

Second place, Investigative Project: Peter Burke, “Testing Martha’s Vineyard Deer Ticks for Lyme Infection”

Second place, Engineering Project: Owen Amodio, “Refined Biodiesel Blend”

Third place, Investigative Project: Jack Crawford, “Measuring Music Volume Levels Through Different Listening Devices”

Third place, Engineering Project: Ethan Creato and Eric Reubens, “Can We Build a Self-Sufficient Biosphere?”

Honorable mentions, Investigative Project: 

  • Anne Culbert, “Comparative Morphological Analysis of Archosaur Scutes”
  • Linus Munn and Jack Hayden, “How Copper Leaches into the Water”
  • Spencer Pogue, “The Effects of Caffeine on Motor Function in Caenorhabditis elegans”
  • Vivian Peak, “Sand to Glass”

Honorable mentions, Engineering Project:

  • Delilah Hammerlund, “Making Nontoxic, Natural, Smooth Paint”
  • Kristin Perzanowski and Ingrid Moore, “Biodegradable Shampoo”
  • Owen Steenkamp, “Designing and Building a Self-Sustaining, Self-Regulated, Solar-Powered Hydroponics System”
  • Henry Kyburg-Abbott and Liam Dawley, “Direct-Current Electric Motor”

Special awards: 

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation Award: Peter Burke, “Testing Martha’s Vineyard Deer Ticks for Lyme Infection”

The David Brand Award: Ethan Creato and Eric Reubens, “Can We Build a Self-Sufficient Biosphere?”

The Island Grown Initiative Award: Owen Steenkamp, “Designing and Building a Self-Sustaining, Self-Regulated, Solar-Powered Hydroponics System”

The Marine and Paleobiological Research Institute Award: Anne Culbert, “Comparative Morphological Analysis of Archosaur Scutes”

Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association Award: Ben Yancey, “The Effects of Nano Silver on the Environment”

Sustainability Award: Owen Amodio, “Refined Biodiesel Blend”

Lagoon Pond Association Award: Annabelle Brothers, “The Effects of Ocean Acidity on Scallops”

Biology Award: Ethan Creato and Eric Reubens, “Can We Build a Self-Sufficient Biosphere?”

Physics Award: Henry D’Andrea, “Powering Sails in Space”

Chemistry Award: Spencer Pogue, “The Effects of Caffeine on Motor Function in Caenorhabditis elegans”

Technology Award: Owen Steenkamp, “Designing and Building a Self-Sustaining, Self-Regulated, Solar-Powered Hydroponics System”