- Category: Local News
- Created on Sunday, 09 June 2013 21:46
San Diego, California - Nicholous LaQua is seventh grade now, but he was so moved by the environmental damage caused by the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago he started exploring ways to clean up oil spills.
His curiosity led to his successful science fair project this spring at the annual Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. About 700 sixth – twelfth graders participated in the event that is judged, in part, by experts from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health. Supervising Environmental Health Specialist John Kolb led the team of judges.
“Our focus is pretty narrow. We look for outstanding projects in food sanitation, land use and management, water and water management, sanitation, hazardous materials and hazardous wastes, and landfills - elements that have a direct correlation to the work we do in environmental health,” said Kolb.
Katie Tam, a ninth grader at Eastlake High, also created an award-winning project by demonstrating which agents would help landfill materials decompose faster. Nicholous, who was concerned about oil spill damage, goes to seventh grade at Notre Dame Academy and his project showed how oyster mushroom compost could reduce hydrocarbons.
The environmental health judges gave awards to four projects - two each from the junior senior divisions. The winners were invited to an awards luncheon where they set up their projects and explained their work to California Environmental Health Association members (CEHA). Each student, or team, was given an award certificate and $200 in prize money from the CEHA scholarship fund. Although the students had been notified they won, the $200 came as an extra surprise.
The other two winners were:
Ruth Tinoco and Deyanira Avalosh, students at High Tech High, who collected mosquito larvae samples and performed DNA sequencing to isolate three different species of potential carriers of West Nile Virus.
Carly Scheufler, an eighth grader at The Rhoades School, wondered about the toxicity of pesticides left on vegetables. She soaked organically-grown carrots and others grown with the use of pesticides and then placed brine shrimp in the water samples. More than 500 brine shrimp were used in 78 sample dishes. She found that brine shrimp were not affected by the water used for the organically grown vegetables, but in the water used to soak vegetables with pesticide residue there was an 80 percent mortality rate for the brine shrimp. Organic vegetables, anyone?