A team of students from Independent Research Program has been selected as the New York State finalist in the nationwide Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge.
Tenth grade students Brian Lau, Rahul Chabria and Ben Chasan earned the prestigious recognition for their research on the impact of Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) on plant growth.
“We are all extremely proud of Brian, Rahul and Ben for this outstanding accomplishment,” said POBJFK Research Coordinator Mary Lou O’Donnell. “The types of assignments included in our research program encourage the development of independent thought and industry. Students are encouraged to draw their own conclusions regarding environmental problems, inspiring them to become better informed about the finer workings of the natural world.”
In their experiment, Lau, Chabria and Chasan tested the impact of naturally occurring CaCO3, obtained from ground egg shells and sea shells, in increasing the pH level of acidic soil and its subsequent effect on plant growth. Upon analysis of the data, they determined that sea shells provide the optimal conditions for the neutralization of acidic soil.
Given the availability of sea shells as an inexpensive recyclable source of calcium carbonate, this application has the potential to offer a green alternative to industrial techniques currently being used in agriculture.
“Working with these students on a long-term project has helped me better appreciate the thought processes and work ethic of young scientists,” said science teacher Nicholas DeMaria, the team’s mentor. “This is frequently not as apparent in the traditional classroom setting.
All state finalists gained recognition from the competition and a prize pack. As the 1st-place winner from the state, the students will go on to compete in the national competition for a chance to win a $5,000 grant for their school and a $50,000 scholarship to be divided equally among the team’s members.
The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge encourages teams of high school students to identify an environmental issue that has local, national and global implications and to provide a viable, replicable solution. Teams must select an environmental topic relating to energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation and clean-up and/or air and climate. One national finalist will be chosen from each state.