South River High School sophomore Ava Grounds claimed the grand award Thursday night at the 48th annual Anne Arundel County Regional Science and Engineering Fair, and schoolmates Ashlee Brennan and Hannah Hall made it clean sweep of the two awards by taking second with their joint project.
Both projects will now be entered in the International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in Pittsburgh, Pa., in May.
Ava’s project, “Biosorption of Heavy Metals by E. Coli” focused on the large role metals play in the degradation of aquatic environments. Organisms that take in these metals pass them up the food chain in accumulating amounts that can become dangerous to humans when consuming fish and shellfish.
In Ava’s study, biosorption – a method of removing heavy metals from aqueous environments – was tested using a strain of E. Coli. The bacteria absorb the heavy metal through metabolic processes and leave the water with less concentrated amounts of metal. After testing three common metals, the study proved that E. Coli K12 could absorb cobalt most efficiently and would help remove the harmful metal in natural environments.
The project done by Ashlee and Hannah, “Capsaicinoids as a Pesticide,” investigated the ideal concentration of capsaicinoids – the natural substance that makes chili peppers hot – in a natural pesticide using Habanero peppers.
More than 300 projects in 17 categories presented by young science stars from across the county in grades 6 through 12 were entered in the fair. Students won awards and prizes worth thousands of dollars from organizations such as Anne Arundel Community College, Johns Hopkins University, Lockheed Martin, Marine Science and Technology, and Northrop Grumman.
The Anne Arundel County Regional Science and Engineering Fair is dedicated to promoting science education and recognizing and rewarding student achievement in science. In addition to the grand award winners, approximately 100 county middle and high school students earned first-place awards at the fair ranging from special awards from community organizations to category awards based on guidelines from Intel ISEF.