SCIENCE FAIR COMPETITION 2024 - P.W. Grosser Consulting, Inc.


April 22, 2024 / PWGC News

PWGC’s 2nd Annual Science Fair Competition concluded as we celebrated the top five projects at our Bohemia Office! The process started in January 2024 when the science fair competition 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 individual top five projects from nearly 20 submissions. Once the judges’ selections were tallied, the overall top five projects were notified on March 22nd to begin their project and to be ready to present their results on April 20th.

Overall Top Five Group at PWGC's 2nd Annual Science Fair Competition

The overall top five projects were:

Do hydroponically grown plants grow more or less than soil grown plants? – Alexander and Ryan

Our project will explore the science behind hydroponics.  Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil, and can include an aggregate substrate, or growing media, such as vermiculite, coconut coir, or perlite.  We will attempt to determine whether a bean plant grows faster and taller using a traditional soil planting method or hydroponic method.  Some questions we will consider include:  Which method of growing the bean plants worked the best? Which produced the fastest growth? Which produced the tallest growth? Overall, which was the better medium – soil or water?

Based on our research, we hypothesized that our hydroponically grown bean plants would grow faster and taller. The better growing medium for bean plants is water rather than soil.  Hydroponics is a better method for growing bean plants as compared to growing bean plants in soil. Our hypothesis is supported by research on hydroponic methods that are known to offer higher yields in a smaller area, allowing growers to produce more fresh foods than traditional farming.

Our step-by-step procedure involves growing the same plants with two pots in soil and two hydroponic growing pots using peat pellets in water.  We will observe, record, and analyze by measuring the hydroponic bean plants and the soil plants every three days or so.  We will also determine a good schedule in which to measure the plants, and record in millimeters how tall the plants are getting and how quickly they are growing. A chart of the results will be compiled to compare these two different growing methods.

Alexander and Ryan presenting their projects to the judges at PWGC's 2nd Annual Science Fair Competition

Collecting and identifying macroinvertebrates to determine if the body of water is polluted – Ella, Sarah, and Melina

We will be testing the appearance of macroinvertebrates in two freshwater lakes.

First, we will collect 50 ml of water from the top and bottom of Frances Pond, located in Oyster Bay and Shu Swamp in Locust Valley. Then, we will use the pipettes to collect the macroinvertebrates and a small amount of water onto a slide and place it under a microscope. After that, we will identify the macro-organisms in the pond using a previously created key that lists all their characteristics. At the end of the experiment, we will take a tally of what macroinvertebrates live in and what pond and will approximately calculate if the water is polluted based on the pollution tolerance of the organisms living there.

Ella, Sarah, and Melina presenting their projects to the judges at PWGC's 2nd Annual Science Fair Competition

Can we conserve energy with the Seebeck Effect? – Ishaan

I will use the Peltier and Seebeck effect in this project. It can be used for many purposes, from freezers to energy saving. The way the Peltier and Seebeck effect makes energy is very simple, similar to solar panels, it takes in temperature difference and produces energy. The Peltier and Seebeck effects are interlocked. The Peltier Effect can be considered as the back-action counterpart to the Seebeck Effect: if a simple thermoelectric circuit is closed, then the Seebeck Effect will drive a current, which in turn (by the Peltier effect) will always transfer heat from the hot junction to the cold junction. Using these two effects, you can create energy to make your life much simpler. According to Tech Target, Peltier and Seebeck effects do different things as shown. The Seebeck effect occurs when the two ends of a thermocouple are at different temperatures, which results in electricity flowing from the hot metal to the cold metal. In the Peltier effect, a temperature difference is created between the junctions when electrical current flows across the terminals. In a copper-constantan thermocouple in which the current at the junction is flowing from copper (+) to constantan (-), heat will be absorbed. But if the direction of the current is reversed — i.e., from constantan (-) to copper (+) — it will result in heat liberation. As you can see, these effects can produce energy.

Ishaan presenting his projects to the judges at PWGC's 2nd Annual Science Fair Competition

BioPlast Clean: An eco clean solution for microplastic filtration – Mihir

The project aims to find a cost-effective, biodegradable, and non-toxic plant-based biocoagulant/flocculant that can replace synthetic coagulants in water treatment plants and filter microplastics with high efficiency.

According to research, the harmful effects of microplastics on aquatic environments and human health have become a widely recognized concern in recent times. These minute plastic particles pose a significant threat to the environment as they persist in water bodies, accumulate in marine life, and enter the food chain. The use of synthetic coagulants for removing microplastics from water can pose environmental and health risks. Some synthetic coagulants may leave behind residual chemicals or by-products after treatment, which could potentially impact aquatic ecosystems and water quality.

This experiment aims to address all three issues by developing a solution for filtering microplastics that is both non-toxic and cost-effective, as well as biodegradable. To do it we have to find out:

  • Which is the best plant-based bio coagulant for the filtration of microplastics in contaminated water?

In this project, biocoagulants derived from okra seeds, flax seeds, fenugreek seeds, and tamarind seeds are utilized. Extracted mucilage from these seeds is combined with water contaminated with microplastics. This plant-derived mucilage, comprising polysaccharides, serves a crucial role in the coagulation and flocculation processes. It aids in bringing microplastics with opposite charges together, promoting their clumping or coagulation. Moreover, these polymers form a bridge-like structure, further binding the coagulated microplastics, resulting in larger and denser clusters through flocculation. This process facilitates filtration, allowing the microplastics to be separated and removed from the water.

Flax seed mucilage exhibited the highest removal efficiency at 96. 70%, followed closely by okra seed mucilage at 95.68%. Contrary to the hypothesis, flaxseed mucilage emerged as the most effective biocoagulant, surpassing others in efficiently removing and filtering microplastics.

Mihir presenting his projects to the judges at PWGC's 2nd Annual Science Fair Competition

What materials work best for creating biodegradable plastic? – Vaibhavi

Plastics are everywhere, in the ocean, our everyday items, and even in our own bodies. Yet having improved our lives significantly, plastics now threaten our environment and our health. These plastics are petroleum based and don’t degrade. My experiment is conducted to help fix this problem. By using biodegradable plastic made from a suitable bio-material, we can make a bioplastic which when composed, can degrade faster than traditional plastic can in a hundred years. Starch, which consists of a long chain of polymers, can be used to produce bio-based plastic using vinegar, glycerin, and water. The acetic acid in the vinegar helps the starch dissolve, the glycerin is the plasticizer, which makes the plastic more flexible and not brittle, and the water is the solvent for the mixture. The heat energy required to produce the plastic, which is an important economic factor in producing the biodegradable plastic, will be recorded during this experiment. I will be testing the flexibility of the plastics made from the different starches to find the best suitable plastic which can be mass produced and used in our everyday lives.

Vaibhavi presenting her projects to the judges at PWGC's 2nd Annual Science Fair Competition

On April 20th, the student’s presented their respective projects to PWGC’s judges, Andy Lockwood, PG, Sr. Vice President, Tim D’Agostino, PE, Project Manager, Katelyn Kaim, AICP, Project Manager, and Tim Sommer, EIT.

The students’ projects were evaluated on the following criteria:

Science Fair Competition Judging Criteria and Prize Breakdown

The judges evaluated the projects and presentations on the following criteria:

  • Creativity of the Project
  • Display/Presentation Aesthetic
  • Hypothesis Relevant to the Results/Findings
  • Judges Q&A
  • 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 with the following results:

1st $1,000 Prize – BioPlast Clean – Mihir

2nd $500 Prize – Seebeck Effect – Ishaan

3rd $250 Prize – Biodegradable Plastic – Vaibhavi

Left to Right: Ishaan (2nd Place), Mihir (1st Place), Vaibhavi (3rd Place)

We congratulate Mihir and the overall top five science fair competition projects for their dedication, effort, and creativity. We also thank all of the student’s submissions to our science fair competition. The competition would not happen without them.

We thank all the participants, and their families, for their hard work and support. We look forward to next year’s science fair competition!

PWGC’s first Science Fair Competition results may be seen here.

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