Kavya Bharati Chidambaram, a senior at Bloomfield High School, wanted to study microplastics and worked with a research supervisor who had experience with sea anemones.
She eventually combined the two and designed an experiment to feed microplastics to aquariums kept at the school to see if the plastic would accumulate and be passed on to predators.
The sea anemone proved to be more unwieldy than expected, so she had to make five trials and modify her methods to come up with a viable experiment. She ended up using four different concentrations of microplastics created using 3D filament and a food processor for her fifth round.
“It was definitely a full experience of the scientific method and process,” she said.
Through dissection, she found that microplastics not only accumulated inside the sea anemone, but also adhered to the anemone’s tissues. This is a “depressing” result that suggests that microplastics may act similarly to the heavy metals that end up in fish that humans eat.
Her project recently won first prize at the senior level at the annual Corden Pharma Colorado Regional Science Fair held at Pratt Middle School in Boulder in partnership with the Boulder Valley School District.
Chidambaram’s project was also eligible to participate in state and international science fairs, but she has no plans to continue her project. She plans to major in environmental science, but she wants to focus on policy rather than research.
“Science Fair was a really great opportunity,” she said. “I was able to explore scientific research on my own terms and work with researchers who were already in the field as mentors.”
Altogether, 18 projects in the senior division qualified for the upcoming state competition. And so were the 14 Junior Division projects.
Two students from Peak-to-Peak Charter School, Amrita Saini and Alexandra Flint, also qualified to participate in the International Fair in the Senior Division. Saini won her first place in the environmental engineering category and Flint won her first place in the physics and astronomy categories.
Amrita, a third-year student at Peak to Peak who plans to major in environmental science or a similar field, said her project builds on a project she attended at last year’s trade show. Her first idea came from a trip to India. There she saw two problems for her: large amounts of air pollutants such as CO2 and unequal access to lighting.
To solve both problems, she hopes to use bioluminescent and photosynthetic algae to reduce the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere through photosynthesis and provide a light source with bioluminescence that does not rely on infrastructure or fossil fuels. I was.
Last year, she applied algae to curtains to try to make photosynthetic fibers. However, she found that the fabric didn’t work well, so she decided to test hydrogel for this year’s project. Her testing showed that hydrogel wasn’t a good choice either. Instead, she found another material that worked: a film made from agar and glycerin.
“There was a lot of trial and error,” she said.
She says challenges include figuring out how to care for algae without access to a lab, and having to learn new skills in a short amount of time. She said she wanted to test the material for
“I am really passionate about my project and I think its potential applications are very interesting,” she said. I think it’s very exciting.”
In the junior division, 8th grader Charlie Danko from Flagstaff Academy in Longmont tied 8th grader Grace Xue from Boulders Summit Middle School for Best of Show. Both will be competing at state science fairs.
Charlie prototypes a robotic arm with the goal of creating an affordable robot that can be used in a dangerous factory. He used his CAD computer program to design the arm and used a 3D printer to make most of the parts.
“I really like mechanical engineering, software engineering and electrical engineering,” he said. “I wanted a way to combine all three and help people at the same time.
He said he had experience with robotics, but it wasn’t “big and complicated like a robotic arm.” He ended up remaking around 300 of his 3D printed parts to work the way he wanted.
“I did a lot of iterations on the robotic arm, just changing small things that didn’t work with the previous design,” he said. “I was very happy with the results.”
Grace said she attended science fairs because she likes investigating and discovering results. After hearing an air quality warning from Alexa, she got the idea to have Marshall investigate soil problems in her fire area. Boulder County found no significant air quality or soil problems in the fire area after clearing debris.
“I was curious about it,” she said. “I wanted to know more.”
In her project, she grew treated nematodes in soil outside the burned area of the fire, in soil that was in the burned area, and in soil near but unaffected by the fire. Then she tested nematodes.
“There was a difference between the soil group and the control group, but more testing is needed to confirm that there is indeed a significant difference,” she said.