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E-Splash February 2014 - Illinois State Junior Science Fair
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash - February 2014

Illinois State Junior Science Fair
Randy Vanderwerf, Committee Chair

The Science Fair sub-committee of the Outreach Committee had an enjoyable day at the Illinois Junior Academy of Sciences State Science Fair held on Saturday, May 4th at Assembly Hall in Champaign. Our judges watched junior high and high school students present their projects which focused on issues important to our drinking water industry. This year, we selected five outstanding projects – two in junior high and three from high school.

One of our junior high winners was 7th grader Annelise Goldman from the Science and Arts Academy in Des Plaines for her project "Got Clean Water?” She tested various water purification methods to see which was most effective in removing bacteria, nitrates and turbidity. Purification methods tested included solar water disinfection, sand and activated carbon.

Our other junior high winner was another 7th grader, Cameron Pedersen, who is from St. Mary School in DeKalb. His project "Does the Source of Water Affect the Quality of It?” involved testing various source waters against impurities to see if any of them were unsafe to drink. Fortunately, all of his source waters proved safe!

Our most unusual project was a joint effort from Anna Gupta and David Lisk, both in 11th grade at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, for "An Egg-Based Water Filter”. They experimented with varying amounts of silver nitrate in an egg whites protein-matrix filter to kill E. coli in contaminated water. They hoped this filter could be used in undeveloped countries as a low-cost water filter.

Another high school winner was Basil Alias, a senior from Niles North High School in Skokie, for his "The Effectiveness of Seed Filters vs. the LifeStraw Water Filter on E. coli” project. Basil’s experiment allowed him to see how seed proteins affect the viability of E. coli. In addition, he determined which seed’s proteins, when used in conjunction with a filter, would be comparable with a commercially available LifeStraw water filter.

The last of our awards went to senior Alexander Gasca from Walter Payton College Prep School in Chicago, a repeat winner from two years ago. For his project "E. Coli? Iron it Out!” Alex was looking to develop a practical and cost effective disinfection method. He developed filters using a combination of zero-valent iron and sand that were just as effective as proven disinfection technologies but at a fraction of their cost.

Annelise and Basil each received a check for $300, Cameron received a check for $200, while our other two projects received checks for $100 each. Four of our project winners have agreed to present at this year’s Watercon. Please join Annelise, Cameron, Anna and David to see them present their amazing projects and encourage their work in the water industry!

ISAWWA’s involvement in the science fair would not be possible without our dedicated committee members! Our volunteers this year were Steve Gerdes and Kathy Gerdes (Town of Normal), Paul Burris (DuPage County Public Works), Ray Ames (Stanley Consultants), Mike Turley (Village of New Lenox), David Said (retired), Firat Sever (Benton and Associates) and Walter Voegel, Elizabeth Doellman and Diana Flanagan (Illinois American Water Company).

Please consider contacting your local schools to provide support for the science fair and other education activities. Next year’s science fair will be moved to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb as the State Farm Center (former Assembly Hall) at the University of Illinois is being renovated. If you would like to participate in next year’s science fair, please email me ( and I will include you on the mailing list. We can always use more members for the science fair and other Outreach Committee activities.


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