Winning projects included alternative energy sources, water quality, alternate food sources
— Three volunteer judges for Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) attended the 61st Annual Akron Public Schools (APS) Science, Math and Technology (SMT) Expo, with the purpose of choosing top projects that addressed environmental concerns and aligned with Smart Goals from the city’s 2009 Greenprint for Action Sustainability Plan. Winners included solar powered heaters, aquaponics and solar powered water desalinators, among others.
The event took place at North High School and was open to fifth- through 12th-graders.
“Every year, Keep Akron Beautiful volunteer judges are impressed by the thought and work that goes into the projects at the SMT Expo, but this year were blown away by the quality of work by middle school students,” said Jacqui Flaherty-Ricchiuti, Keep Akron Beautiful executive director and CEO. “Thank you to Dr. Katrina Halasa and all the amazing APS coaches and instructors for encouraging students to experiment and come up with possible solutions to our global environmental challenges.”
The three judges in attendance this year were Kevin Lockett of Lockett Media, who is a KAB Board Member and substitute teacher, Ricchiuti, executive director and CEO of KAB, and Cindy Pantea of the KAB staff. This year, the top third and fourth projects were so close that it was the decision of the judges to award two third-place cash prizes. Winners’ presentations addressed alternative energy sources, water quality, litter decomposition and alternate food sources.
First-place award of $200 went to fifth-grader Maya Bowers, of National Inventors Hall of Fame (S.T.E.M. Learning) for her project, How to Make a Solar Powered Heater. Experimenting with solar as an energy source, Bowers constructed the solar heating apparatus and used it to heat her room. She then monitored the highest temperature reached all the way to cool down.
Second-place award of $100 went to seventh-grader Neeroj Ghatani, of Jennings CLC for his project, Solar Powered Desalination. This project required making and testing solar devices for the purpose of water desalination, to make the water source suitable for human consumption.
The first of two $50 third-place prizes was awarded to seventh-grader Giustina Ricchiuti, of Miller-South for the Visual and Performing Arts for her project, Whatever Happened to Glass? The project focused on the amount of time it takes for paper, plastic and foam cup products to decompose after burying several of each in different types of soil around Akron.
The remaining $50 third-place prize was awarded to seventh-grader Emma Highfield, National Inventors Hall of Fame (S.T.E.M. Learning), for her project, Aquaponics vs. Soil. Proving that growing lettuce by using aquaponics, which shares some similarities with hydroponics, is faster than growing in soil, Highfield’s thoughts were for alternate food production and the possibility of farming on Mars for long-duration missions.
Keep Akron Beautiful is certainly #Akronproud of these amazing young students.
For info, visit www.keepakronbeautiful.org.