PWGC’s 2023 Science Fair
PWGC celebrated science on Earth Day by hosting its first science fair! The process started in January 2023 when the advertisement and application was sent to Long Island middle schools. We were fortunate, and humbled, to receive a variety of projects from brilliant and enthusiastic students. PWGC’s internal review team selected their top three projects from more than 15 submissions. Once the judges’ selections were tallied, the overall top three projects were notified on March 24th to begin their project and to be ready to present their findings and results on April 22nd.
The overall top three projects were:
Creating Harmful Algal Bloom in the Lab – Khush Mehta
This experiment aims to create a controlled and consistent environment for algae growth in the bottles. My hypothesis is – When fertilizers and warmth are provided to pond water, it leads to excess growth of algae and HAB formation, which results in low dissolved oxygen levels. If this happens, then it will suggest that global warming and the excessive use of fertilizers are factors that lead to an increase in HABs.
All bottles will be checked for color, temperature, growth of algae, and dissolved oxygen levels. It takes alga about 15-20 days to grow when light and nutrients are provided. So by 28 days, a HAB should form, and the dissolved oxygen levels should drop thereafter.
Project Phytoplankton – Isabella and Paul DiPaola
We are conducting an experiment on the intake of carbon using microscopic marine organisms that have provided the world with roughly 70 percent of its oxygen since the time they came to dominate the seas around the Mesozoic era, or 65 to 251 million years ago. These are called phytoplankton, and we are experimenting with them using tradescantia zebrina, a fast-growing hydroponic inch plant. Phytoplankton’s photosynthesis process intakes and fixes carbon in water to produce oxygen. The theory is that the greater the amount of live phytoplankton, the more carbon will be fixed, and the more oxygen will be stimulating the growth of the plant.
BeeDivert – Mahdi Naqvi
Because of the loss of habitat, bees often build their hives in close proximity to human settlements resulting in the extermination of billions of bees annually. The bee population has decreased by almost 50 percent from April 2020 to April 2021. I will be designing and developing a self-sustainable electric device that will attract bees to desirable locations moving them away from harm’s way. To attract bees the small device will use a micro-computer that will use sensors to release unique scents and vibrations. When designing the device I will make it so it can be upgraded and new functionality can be added to the device such as sending data to the cloud that can be used by researchers to further improve the bee population.
On April 22nd, Khush, Isabella and Paul, and Mahdi presented their projects to Paul K. Boyce, PE, PG, President/CEO of PWGC, Jim Rhodes, PG, COO of PWGC, and Jennifer Lewis, PG, Vice President of PWGC. Their projects were evaluated on the following criteria:
Science Fair Judging Criteria and Prize Breakdown
The judges evaluated the projects and presentations on the following criteria:
- Creativity of the Project
- Hypothesis Relevant to the Results/Findings
- Display/Presentation Aesthetic
- Overall Presentation
Each of the presenters demonstrated an understanding of their projects and of the scientific method and conveyed their information effectively and clearly.
After the presentations, the judges’ scores were tallied:
1st – $1,000 Prize – Project Phytoplankton – Isabella and Paul DiPaola
2nd – $500 Prize – Creating Harmful Algal Bloom in the Lab – Khush Mehta
3rd – $250 Prize – BeeDivert – Mahdi Naqvi
The point difference from 1st place to 3rd place was a total of two (2) points.
We thank all the participants, and their families, for their hard work and support. We look forward to next year’s science fair!