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International Science and Engineering Fair 2013
Santa Cruz County Science Fair Students Win at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix
With the generous support of Seagate Technology and other community partners, the Santa Cruz County Science Fair provides the opportunity for the two top High School projects to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) each year.
Here are the details about the Intel ISEF Finalist projects from Santa Cruz:
An Investigation of Cellulosic Ethanol: Oxidation of Hemicellulose and Lignin to Achieve High Conversion Yields of Cellulose to Glucose
Hailey Loehde Woolard, 10th grade, Pacific Collegiate School
The purpose of this experiment was to compare my previously developed treatment process with recent developments utilizing an oxidizing agent to delignify wood pulp, and to adjust my methods in order to achieve the highest yield possible. I used unprinted newsprint as a model of hardwood and waste stream paper (it as the same concentrations of lignocellulosic materials). My process involved an alkaline, high temperature, moderate-high pressure, and microwave digestion process. I also used hydrogen peroxide to act as an oxidizer to delignify the paper in hopes of an increased conversion.For the control alkaline tests (without H2O2) I achieved similar results compared to previous years experiments. A conversion of about 47.99% cellulose to glucose was achieved. In the H2O2 experiment, I saw drastic changes. I achieved an average conversion yield of 95.36%, with my highest results being 99.89%. These results are higher than the scientific papers I consulted on the subject. In conclusion, I believe the changes in the conversion yields were due to the liquification of the other lignocellulosic materials in combination with my process. In the overall purpose of my endeavors, I believe that I have successfully found an adequate, feasible and high yielding procedure for the production of cellulosic ethanol on a large scale.
The Secrets of San Lorenzo Valley's Atmosphere
Team Project: Natalie Gallagher & Connor Lydon, 10th grade,
San Lorenzo Valley HS
Our purpose is to determine the affect of atmospheric inversions on ground particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) levels, and to compare San Lorenzo Valley's particulate matter 2.5 levels to neighboring areas. We used radiosondes, 200g balloons, helium, parachutes, dereelers, an i-Met 3050 Sounding System, and data from EBAMs. We collected atmospheric data over a period of three months, launching weather balloons three times a week, twice a day to obtain atmospheric inversion data. Particulate matter 2.5 clearly was affected by atmospheric inversions, and increased greatly on inversion days. In some cases, PM 2.5 levels were "unhealthy" on inversion days and "healthy" on non-inversion days.
Also, differing topography between San Lorenzo Valley and non-valley areas also influenced particulate matter 2.5 levels; most comparisons had "unhealthy" PM 2.5 levels in San Lorenzo Valley, while PM 2.5 levels in a neighboring area were "healthy". (Ratings derived from a modified Air Quality Index Table we had created). Inversions do affect levels of particulate matter 2.5, and due to this San Lorenzo Valley experienced many unhealthy days for particulate matter 2.5. San Lorenzo Valley experienced much higher particulate matter 2.5 levels then neighboring areas – to such extent that while another area may be experiencing “healthy” PM 2.5 levels, San Lorenzo Valley can be experiencing “unhealthy” PM2.5 levels.
"When we browsed the projects of other fellow scientists, we saw people with ideas and experiments that would cure cancer, make the world more accessible to the disabled, and just improve technology, our environment, and the quality of life in general. These things reinforce the reason why one should love science. The International Science & Engineering Fair has been an experience that I will remember for a lifetime, as this fair will help me determine what scientific field I would like to enter as a career."