Solar, Material Decomposition and Aquaponics Projects Win Keep Akron Beautiful Prizes

by Cindy Pantea

I, along with two other volunteer judges for Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB), attended the 61st Annual Akron Public Schools (APS) Science, Math and Technology (SMT) Expo to choose top projects addressing environmental concerns. This year’s event was on Saturday, January 28, 2017. It’s held at North High School.

Keep Akron Beautiful has been a sponsor judge of this event for several years offering prize money totaling $400. Typically judges split monies between the top three projects, but the third- and fourth-place projects were tied so two third-place prizes were given.

Keep Akron Beautiful SMT Expo Sponsor Judge Winners

First Place

The first-place award of $200 went to 5th grader, Maya Bowers, of National Inventors Hall of Fame (S.T.E.M. Learning) for her project, How to Make a Solar Powered Heater.

Experimenting with alternate energy sources, Bowers made her solar heating apparatus and used it to heat a room in her home while monitoring it’s highest temperature peak to cool down. The Internet is loaded with How Tos on do-it-yourself solar heaters if you’re inclined to find a building project that saves a little on heating bills.

Second Place

A second-place award of $100 went to 7th grader, Neeroj Ghatani, of Jennings CLC for his project, Solar Powered Desalination.

This project required making and testing solar devices for the purpose of water desalination, which attempts to remove contaminants or extra minerals like salt from salt water in order for the H2O to be fit for human consumption.

Third Place (Two Prizes)

The first of two $50 third-place prizes was awarded to 7th grader, Giustina Ricchiuti, of Miller South for the Visual and Performing Arts for her project, Whatever Happened to Glass?

Ricchiuti wanted to find out the decomposition rate of drinking cups on the market. She buried several of each type in different soils around Akron. The slow decomposition of her study conclusions really hit home the importance of choosing products wisely and recycling properly.

Another $50 third-place prize was awarded to 7th grader, Emma Highfield, National Inventors Hall of Fame (S.T.E.M. Learning), for her project, Aquaponics vs. Soil.

From alternate food sources to protecting soil from overcropping to the possibility of life on Mars, Highfield’s project showed that aquaponics growing is faster than soil. Aquaponics is similar to hydroponics but the essential difference is that the growth is stimulated by fish waste, which is non-toxic and organic.

Keep Akron Beautiful Volunteer Judges

I had the pleasure of working again this year with Kevin Lockett of Lockett Media, who is a KAB Board Member and substitute teacher. Our Keep Akron Beautiful Executive Director and CEO, Jacqui Ricchiuti, also joined our judging team.

The judges were extremely impressed with the level of projects from our 5th grade elementary student and three 7th graders. However, there were other great environmental projects as well. To see our favorite water quality projects, done by Alison Cameron (North High School) and the team of Mikaila Conrad and Sydney Craig (Hyre CLC) visit our photo album of the 61st Annual Akron Public School SMT Expo on Facebook.







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