Three students, including one from Gresham, who displayed their sophisticated science projects on Friday at the Gresham Barlow Science Expo will head to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May.
Isaac Klementis, a Gresham High School student, and Arnob Das and Chaitanya Karamchedu, both students at Jesuit High School in Beaverton, will attend the prestigious high school science and engineering fair that draws students from all over the world. Karamchedu qualified for the international fair in 2016 and also picked up the "Best of Fair" award at the Gresham Barlow Expo held on Friday, March 10, at Gresham High School.
In addition to bragging rights of making it to the peak of school science in the country, $5 million in scholarships and awards are at stake at the international competition.
Klementis, a junior, did a project evaluating the effectiveness of lichen as an indicator of air pollution. Klementis determined that different sorts of lichen are sensitive to levels of air pollution and collected data from 20 sites as far as 50 miles away from Portland.
He expected different types would be prevalent the farther away he got from the presumably more polluted city center. However, his research found no correlation.
"It is the first time I did a science project that asked more questions than it answered," he said.
"Field work is difficult, especially with this weather," he acknowledged. "We had to camp in the Tillamook Forest to get some samples and we woke up to snow. That probably also threw a monkey wrench in the data, too."
Klementis is considering a college major that would lead him to a career in botany or ecology.
Karamchedu developed a new way to take the salt out of ocean water, making it more efficient than prior methods. Das's project was titled "Room temperature persistent current in conjugated polymer nanorings."
Chloe Sprauer, a Gresham High senior, did a project that mapped the levels of nitrates in local rivers and ponds to see how they changed with location and time. Nitrates get in streams and lakes from fertilizer or human and animal waste.
"Nitrates cause an excessive build up of algae," which makes it difficult for fish and insects to survive. If it gets in the drinking water, it can be dangerous for infants.
Sprauer tested water in six locations including Butler Creek, the Sandy River and the pond at Red Sunset Park.
"The results at Red Sunset pond were the most interesting," she said.
Sprauer expected the pond at Red Sunset Park to have high levels of nitrates, partly because "it is completely covered with duck feces," she noted.
She was surprised, however, that there were no nitrates in the pond, but surmised that the aeration system has something to do with it.
"I really enjoyed my project," she said.
Sprauer plans to attend Mt. Hood Community College for two years and then probably transfer to Oregon State University. She would like to become a pathologist.
Kelley Bastin and her teammates Victoria Myers and Eric Ovcharenko from Gresham High School entered their robot they had designed and built for the FIRST robotics competition.
"We started completely from scratch," with the robot, which they named "Bianca Piper Quinn," she said. The team is eligible to compete in the state science expo in April.
The Gresham-Barlow expo is an "at large" event and hosts seven schools including Lake Oswego High School, Jesuit High School and Oregon Islamic Academy.
The top winners in each category at Gresham-Barlow are eligible to compete in the state expo, which will be held April 8 at Portland State University. Twenty-seven students from the Gresham-Barlow Expo are eligible to participate in the PSU event.