The Texas Biomedical Forum and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation have teamed up for the last 24 years to give grants to Bexar County science teachers who are looking for funding for specific projects in their classrooms. The awards totaling $20,000 were given out March 7, 2018, at The Argyle.
The 2018 winners of the Science Education Awards were described in the ceremony’s program.
Justina Vidal, Saint Mary’s Hall, First Place
Inspired by an interview she heard on NPR about the difficulties oyster farmers face as the ocean becomes more acidified, Ms. Vidal sought to educate students on how the ocean acts as a “sponge” for carbon emissions which directly negatively affect the pH of brackish waters, the oyster industry and surrounding ecosystems. The students will recreate a miniature version of an oyster habitat in small aquariums in the classroom. After establishing a baseline pH, the students will bubble in carbon dioxide and observe how a decrease in pH can affect development of oyster shells. The potential damage to the shells at various pHs will be observed using a dissecting microscopy. The students will then plant sea grass and other plants which can sequester carbon dioxide in the habitats and observe the changes in pH. Students will be able to calculate the approximate amount of carbon dioxide sequestered using pH calculations and stoichemistry. This projects will allow students to see a real world example of a synthesis reaction, Henry’s Law, Kinetic molecular theory, and the pH scale.
Frank Morales, Thomas Jefferson High School, Second Place
Was the suspect at the scene of the crime? Students involved in this project will receive non-human DNA samples along with DNA found at the simulated crime scene. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), students will make millions of copies of the scarce samples of DNA. Using the amplified DNA, students will use electrophoresis to separate and compare the DNA to reveal a “fingerprint” that matches the sample found at the crime scene, thus solving the case
Sarah Thompson, Earl Warren High School, Third Place
Students will identify real world impacts of pollution on water quality in San Antonio and use that information to become informed stewards of their environment. Aquatic science teachers will use nets to harvest benthic invertebrate specimens from various bodies of water in San Antonio and surrounding areas. Students will utilize magnification devices and dichotomous keys to identify invertebrate specimens. The students will classify the water samples on relative level of pollutants based on tolerance or intolerance to water quality changes of collected specimens. Students will create posters about water quality for the science hallway in order to educate other students about the effects of water quality on the health of an ecosystem and positively influence their behaviors throughout the rest of their lives in regards to maintaining the health of the planet.
Colin Lange, Alamo Heights High School, Honorable Mention
Blood — and the contents within — are extremely important to the survival of humans. This project seeks to determine the effects of extreme forces, like those experience in rocket flight, on the red blood cells. The students are designing and fabricating a rocket capable of reaching an altitude of 100,000 feet. In addition, they are designing and developing the Blood Burst System to test the effects of rocket flight on blood and its components. Students will analyze the blood of a single individual at baseline and then again after the blood has been in a rocket launch where it will undergo differences in pressure, extreme acceleration forces and opening forces of the parachutes.
Katelin Whittaker, Advanced Learning Academy, Honorable Mention
How can students provide electricity to those without access in developing nations? An estimated 79% of individuals in developing nations have no access to electricity. Students will investigate global electricity access and collectively determine a country or region to support. They will subsequently communicate via Skype with students in the selected area to learn about their daily energy uses and needs. Students will build energy converters and generators based on the needs of the particular area that the project will serve while learning about sources of energy, energy conservation and efficiency. The students will ship their energy converters and generators to the international school for them to use as a source of electricity.