Bright ideas, solid research and teamwork won two teams from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy a berth as semifinalists in the Christopher Columbus Awards, a nationwide program that challenges middle-school students to explore opportunities for positive change in their communities.
As a capstone to their immunology unit, two groups from SCH’s Middle School for Girls worked for several weeks to design and test a solution to a community problem focusing on disease prevention. They were asked to identify and research the problem, design a solution, test the solution, write a summary of their process and results, and create a visual display that shared all that they had discovered.
The first group, which included students Coco Crandall, Oona Timmeney-Tracy, and Ellie Ferraro, came up with the idea to create a shopping cart shed that would use UV light to eradicate harmful bacteria found on shopping carts. They were inspired to work on this particular problem after learning that researchers found that up to 75 percent of shopping carts are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Their test involved culturing bacteria and comparing growth from a makeshift shopping cart before and after treatment.
The second group, which included students Allegra Driscoll, Emma Yeatman, and Abigail Duncan, designed a device prototype that would use UV-C light to eradicate harmful bacteria found on hand-held technology. Their test also involved culturing bacteria and comparing growth from numerous pieces of hand-held technology.
Both ideas, if put into practice worldwide, would help reduce the amount of infectious disease encountered on a daily basis. That’s the hope of these two teams of seventh graders and their teacher, Erik Dreisbach.
When asked to reflect on her experience with the project, Coco Crandall, a member of the shopping cart team said, “I loved working with my friends on this project, and I learned a lot about how to create a scientific report. It was a great learning experience and it was also astonishing to learn about the amount of bacteria on shopping carts.”
A panel of community leaders, scientists and experts in science education judged these ideas as two of the top 30 Christopher Columbus Awards entries in the U.S. More than 850 students and coaches participated nationwide.