The following abstracts are from projects that won best of fair awards at GNSEF in recent years.


A Prototype Sewage Treatment Plant

Year in school: 11, Age 17
Category: Environmental Sciences

To design, build, and test a prototype sewage treatment plant that will decrease the turbidity of the water by removing biosolids and then through aeration remove oxygen scavengers therefore increasing the dissolved oxygen (DO) and decreasing the biological oxygen demand (BOD). It is believed that a prototype sewage treatment plant can be built that will filter water while, at the same time, decrease the turbidity in the water and increase the dissolved oxygen. To produce a simulation of sewage water, a 20 gallon fish tank was filled with hard water, six fish, and a regular carbon waterfall filtration system so that regular samples of the fish tank water could be analyzed daily. A prototype water wheel with fibers (Velcro) was built so that it would pick up biosolids and dispose them in a collection tank. A tank with a hose on the bottom was also constructed to aerate the water and also breakdown other biological materials. Water that is passed through any of the prototype sewage treatment designs will be tested for nitrate, turbidity, DO, ammonia, pH, and BOD. Tests show that simple aeration was very efficient at increasing the dissolved oxygen and the paddle with fibers on it was efficient at collecting biological solids. Even though the DO was increased and the amount of turbidity was decreased, the bacteria were still present and the water was not potable.



The Micropropagation of Celastrus Through Tissue Culture

Year in school: 12, Age 18
Category: Plant Sciences

The floral industry is a billion dollar per year industry. Lately, specialty forest crops, or woody florals, such a Celastrus, commonly known as bitter sweet, has become very popular because of the berries that the Celastrus plant produces. Celatrus is a monacious plant, meaning that it has both a male and a female plant. Since only the female berries produce berries, I wanted to find a way to multiply only the female plants, which could be economically valuable to the woody floral industry. It will ensure that the plants cultured would produce berries and increase profits. I wanted to determine if it was possible and what ways would be the best to force the plants out of dormancy. After they are forced, I determined if I could tissue culture the new growth on the stems and what media type would work the best. My hypothesis was that it was possible to force Celastrus and that the solution with the highest amount of 8-hydroxyquinoline citrate (C9H7NOC6H8O7) will prove the best. I also hypothesized that it would be possible to tissue culture the new growth. My procedure consists of forcing 120 stems in select solutions. These solutions were each 150 mL. They included 200 ppm C9H7NOC6H8O7 and 2% sucrose, 150 ppm C9H7NOC6H8O7 and 2% sucrose, 100 ppm C9H7NOC6H8O7 and 2% sucrose, 50 ppm C9H7NOC6H8O7 and 2% sucrose, Gatorade©, distilled water and 2% sucrose, and distilled water. The solutions were changed every four days and changes were noted. There were two different specimen groups taken, one earlier in the dormancy period and one after a longer dormancy. Samples were taken in the dormant stage because the berry shells were still on the plants, which were needed to identify the females from the males. I then forced the plants out of their dormancy and grew them until there was enough suitable material. I then took the new plant material to the University of Nebraska- Lincoln laboratory and used their facilities in order to tissue culture. There is no pre-developed growing media that Celastrus would grow in, so with the guidance of Dr. Paul Read and Virginia Miller, lab technician, I developed a few formulas to test. I found that I could force the stems and that the control, distilled water, worked the best. I also found that it was possible to tissue culture the new growth and found three of the medias that I developed would work. Therefore, my hypothesis was proven partially correct and partially incorrect, due to the fact that the distilled water worked the best, when I hypothesized that the 200 ppm C9H7NOC6H8O7 and 2% sucrose, would.



Multiple Impact Absorption and Energy Distribution of Composite Materials

Year in school: 10, Age 16
Category: Electrical and Mechanical Engineering

Modern combat calls for armor made for a fast, light, adaptable fighting force. This same armor must be able to replace trauma plates in bullet proof vests. This project is a study of how composite materials react to being struck repeatedly with a high speed projectile. It will measure the force of each impact and calculate the ratio of weight to force impact. The major goal of this project is to find a composite material that has low weight to deflection ratio and one that holds up well to repeated hits.
I built an air canon that will fire a wax projectile at a composite material layered between two sheets of metal. A force meter will measure the repeated strikes from the canon. I will also measure the deflection of the metal over the composite material and the ratio of weight to force impact.
My hypothesis was supported by the data collected. The metal had a minimal effect on the composite and did a great job of holding the composite together. As I predicted, the medium weight composite had the best weight to deflection ratio and weight to repeated impact.
Advances in warfare must be met with advances in technology. We must focus on the survivability of combat vehicles and armored vests. Composite materials are what steel was to wood on old battleships. Composite materials are 40 percent lighter than steel and . The only disadvantage is that they are more expensive to produce.



An Extension of the Faraday Effect: Using Non-Parallel Magnetic Fields

In all reviewed research of experiments involving the Faraday Effect (the rotation of the plane of polarization of light by a magnetic field) a similarity emerges, the magnetic field is always parallel to the medium. What would happen if the magnetic field was not parallel to the direction of the light?

The Faraday Effect equation phi=VBL where phi is the rotation of the plane of polarization, V is the Verdet constant, B is the magnetic field, and L is the material length. If the magnetic field is at an angle theta with a laser beam, then the hypothesis is phi=VBL cos(theta).

Initially, the laser beam passed through the medium without a magnetic field present. Two polaroid filters, one rotated by a stepper motor, filtered the beam to minimum light. The angle at which the filters are crossed is measured. The procedure is repeated with a magnetic field. The angle of Faraday rotation is the difference between the first and second angles.

The procedure was repeated with the magnetic field set at various angles using Terbium glass rods as the optical medium.

The data supported the hypothesis for the shorter of the two Terbium glass mediums. The experiment with the long Terbium glass medium did not uphold the hypothesis. The data fit an inverse tangent curve instead of the predicted cosine curve. It is speculated that the geometry of the experiment involving the long Terbium glass introduced another factor into the equation.

A Catalytic Converter for 4-cycle Engine Lawnmowers, Phase IV

To reduce the emissions coming from a 4-cycle engine lawnmower new designs were made using various catalysts. The designs were made to increase temperature and resident airtime, while decreasing the loss of horsepower and the loss of exit speed of the exhaust.

The lawnmower exhaust was attached to the catalytic converter designs. The exhaust was tested without a converter for carbon monoxide (CO in % volume), hydrocarbons (HC in ppm), nitrogen oxides (NOx in ppm), temperature (degrees C), and engine rotation velocity (rpm). Then a prototype with platinum beads was made and attached to the lawnmower and tested. Next, wire screens plated with nickel were used to design a converter. This decreased the loss of horsepower due to an increase in exit speed of the exhaust.

Prototype A (which used platinum beads) reduced CO by 5% volume, HC by 180 ppm, NOx by 5ppm and engine rotational velocity by 28rpm. The temperature was increased by 1 degree C. Prototype B (nickel plated wire mesh) reduced CO by 3% volume, HC by 120ppm, NOx by 1ppm and engine rotational velocity by 28rpm. Currently, the results using nickel catalyst are low because not enough mesh was used, and new prototypes using nickel catalyst are being designed to increase the amount of mesh in the converter.

Could an antibiotic used in animals cause the death of a child… the relationship between fluoroquinolone use and the development of antibiotic resistance in S. typhi.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) views antibiotic resistance as an important emerging public health problem, suggesting antibiotic use in animals is an important link to the rapidly developing problem. If true, this could jeopardize the effectiveness of quinolone antibiotics, one of the few antibiotic classes remaining for doctors to effectively treat life-threatening diseases in humans. The FDA, citing lack of convincing data, does not support the CDC’s request to prohibit the use of fluoroquinolones in livestock and poultry. This project evaluated the potential for resistance to develop to enrofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic inSalmonella typhimurium (S. typhi).

The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), the lowest drug level which inhibits bacterial growt, of enrofloxacin for S. typhi ATCC:14028 is 0.06 micrograms/milliliter. S. typhi is sensitive (S) to enrofloxacin levels > 0.06 micrograms/milliliter, which in this project served as the antibiotic positive control (PC). To evaluate the potential for enrofloxacin resistance development, S. typhi ATCC:14028 was grown for 15 days in drug levels below the MIC. These drug levels were 0.06 micrograms/milliliter designated “intermediate” (I), and 0.006 micrograms/milliliter designated “Resistant” (R). S. typhi cultures not exposed to enrofloxacin served as negative controls (NC). All treatments were replicated eight times and the MIC evaluation was replicated twice.

The enrofloxacin MIC increased 38% for S. typhi ATC:14028. 14028 (p<0.05). The MIC increase in I and R treatements over NC was statistically different (p<0.01). There was no statistical difference between I and R treatments. Enrofloxacin resistance can develop in S. typhi which could lead to a child’s death.

An Identity Expressing n! as a Combination of Integers to the nth Power Using Coefficients from the nth Row of Pascal’s Triangle: Year Two

Last year my project was an original discovery of an identity relating factorials and exponents using coefficients from Pascal’s Triangle. It included an analytical calculus proof.

With input from science fair judges, teachers and mathematicians, I have improved my discovery with two new inductive proofs. The proofs provide interesting new formulae, including sigma identities for zero. I have also expanded my project to include imaginary numbers, eliminating the need for absolute value bars, and pursued some applications for my identity.

One of the new equations makes a new method of encryption a reality. As this project represents the barest form of this new method, the encryption is the simplest possible word replacement technique. Nevertheless, this technique opens a gateway to a new world of code creation, with cheap and effective methods.

I have also begun a comprehensive method for testing the computation of computers and electronic scientific equipment. My findings provide an interesting test for consumer reports on the efficiency and accuracy of these devices, and can be used to improve future models.

My project is by no means complete. A graphic approach to the pure aspect of my project appears to have connections to the Gamma Function. Relating the sigma to the integral has inherent benefits for mathematics, especially number theory. A more complex method of encryption is also a worthy pursuit.



The following abstracts are from projects that won best of fair awards at GNSEF in 1998.

A Reliable Whole-mount Histochemistry Procedure for the Analysis of the Vitellaria in the Rotifer Philodina roseloa.

This is a first-year study with approximately 500 tests conducted in order to match the membranous chemistry of the vitellaria, in the rotifer Philodina roseola. The development of this procedure has been centered around a protocol which will help elucidate the morphogenetic proteins involved in regulating segmentation and spatial differentiation.

P. roseola moreover, is a parthenogenetic bilaterally segmented pseudocoleomate, which carries no males within the species. Previous procedures have tried with limited success, incorporating reagents and methods that were degrading (Jeppesen, Rosa-Molinar 1995), and did not maintain the organism’s three dimensional histological composition. In this way, one will actually lose information pertaining to the organism’s histological composition. Therefore, a reliable whole-mount histochemistry procedure was developed in order to differentially stain the vitellaria in the rotifer P. roseola. Statistical analysis was conducted on the preliminary histochemistry procedure that was originally formulated in this study, as well as a modified procedure which was derived from the original. Both the statistical analysis and the photomicrographs which were produced, show that the modified procedure effectively stains the vitellaria. The preliminary procedure often had a dessicating and/or macerating effect on the rotifer tissue due to the concentrations of the reagents. The quality of the differential stain was not as prominent in the preliminary procedure either.

In the future, the modified whole-mount histochemistry procedure that has been derived in this experiment, will be accompanied by an immunohistochemistry procedure that will label specific morphogenic proteins involved in regulating the spatial organization of the reproductive system in the rotifer P. roseola.

An Identity Involving n!, Consecutive Integers to the nth Power, and the nth Row of Pascal’s Triangle

Sequences of numbers are interesting in their patterns. I discovered that the finite difference of a sequence of consecutive squares terminates in 2 = 2!. I next tried a sequence of cubes and their finite differences, the result being 6 = 3!. Hoping this was not a mere coincidence, I repeated the procedure with numbers to the fourth power. Again, I found the finite difference was 24 = 4!.



Next, I expressed the relationship in reverse, postulating a telescoping identity of n! as a combination of consecutive integers to the nth power. This combination surprisingly contained coefficients which exist in the nth row of Pascal’s Triangle! The combination could then be generalized with the following equation:



A program was written on Mathematica to test the postulate. The program ran over night, and it was found that the relationship was true for 1000! Given that the equation did not break down with large numbers, I pursued a proof of this identity, which is available in the extended report. Thus, there is a logical connection between nth powers, n! and the nth row of Pascal’s Triangle!!



The following abstracts are from projects that won best of fair awards at GNSEF in 1997.

An Evaluation of Cleaning Techniques for a Child’s Medicine Dispensing Device

A delicate balance exists between the health and wellness of children. I questioned the trust we place in the phrase, “read and follow label directions.” It may place a child at risk of infection from contaminated medication dispensing droppers.

The objective was to determine if the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning technique for children’s medication dispensing droppers, rinsing, would remove contaminate bacteria and viruses. Additional experiments investigated alternative cleaning techniques.

Rinsing was evaluated by randomly assigning dispensing droppers to nine positive controls (+C), nine negative controls (-C), 42 bacterial replicates, and 128 viral replicates. Bacillus subtilis was chosen as the test bacterium and BHV1 virus was chosen as the test virus. A dropper was used to dispense a randomly selected nonprescription children’s liquid medication into a disposal. Next, the dropper was contaminated with either B. subtilis spores or BHV1 and rinsed. A drop from each dispenser was used to inoculate either blood agar plates (bacterial evaluation), or a cell culture monolayer (viral evaluation). Growth was evaluated at 24 hour intervals. Rinsing reduced bacterial growth but not viral growth when compared to the nonrinsed +C (p < 0.05). Significant growth remained compared to the -C (p < 0.05).

Four additional cleaning techniques were evaluated. Each technique was repeated 12 times for bacterial evaluation and 32 times for viral evaluation. Two techniques, boiling in water and washing with soapy water, significantly lowered the bacterial and viral contamination compared to either the precleaning cohorts or +C. Postcleaning values were statistically similar to the noncontaminated -C.

Triangulating Distance Using Stepper Motors and CdS Cells

Engineer a system to which a computer can be connected and used to determine the distance from a predetermined position to a randomly placed light.

To accomplish this project a light proof box is used. The inside of the box is painted flat black so very little light is reflected off the sides of the box. Two steppers are mounted on the same end of the bottom of the box. Two CdS cells are mounted onto each of the stepper motores.CdS cells are light sensitive cells that reduce electrical resistance as the light intensity on them increases. The CdS cells transmit data to the computer via modem. The computer interprets this data and makes appropriate changes in the stepper motors position so that each CdS cell has an equal amount of light hitting each cell. When the cells are equal the computer computes the number of stepps into degrees and triangulates the distance from the center point between the stepper motors to the light source. The distance is accurate to within 5% of the distance between the stepper motors.