Texas high school students are prepared for science of the future

November 25, 2002

Creativity is abundant in Mansfield, Austin and Beaumont, Texas, high schools. Students from each of these cities participated in good old-fashioned fun as they took science into their hands, discovering cures, saving lives, analyzing diets and cleaning the environment in the year 2025 for the "Chemagination" contest. All of this took place in Austin at the Southwest regional meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, on Nov. 3. The students were asked, "What breakthrough or innovation related to chemistry will improve the quality of a teenager's life in 2025?" Students submitted articles in one of four categories, written as if they were to appear in the October 2025 issue of ChemMatters magazine, the Society's publication for high school chemistry students. The categories were biotechnology, medicine/healthcare, transportation/environment and new materials.

The winners are:

In biotechnology, 11th graders Matt Ciarkowski (son of Larry and Donna), Dana Pappalardo (daughter of John and Mary) and Lindsey Ross (daughter of Steve and Karen) of Mansfield High School in Mansfield won for their submission entitled, The cure has come. They foresaw a genetically engineered bacterium that destroys human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected cells. "Viraphage spirochete" eats the HIV by invading and replicating the bacteria cell. It also replicates the viral DNA, allowing the virus to reproduce and destroy the bacteria. The viraphage spirochete bacteria are injected into the bloodstream where they begin to attack the viral cells. By creating new bacteria to destroy the HIV virus, the body is saved from toxic and allergic medications as well as painful side effects. Jerry Kirby is the principal and Nancy Males is the science teacher.

Mansfield High School also won the medicine/healthcare contest with a lifespan saving device entitled, Matrix microchip. Eleventh graders Ashlee Hillerud (daughter of Steven and Paula), Kate Mashburn (daughter of Jay and Terry) and Kaylee Nuckolls (daughter of Norman and Lisa) envisioned a waterproof microchip, which, when suspended in the toilet, provides instantaneous urinalysis data. Wires run through the bathroom wall from the chip to a touch-screen monitor, which can be hidden in a cabinet or mounted on a wall. The microchip takes a reading of your urine each time you use the bathroom. You can choose to view the results immediately or wait for 10 minutes before they are automatically erased. The results are analyzed and displayed on the monitor, which can tell you what diseases or abnormalities you have and what you should eat to control your diet. The matrix microchip performs ten or more different tests on the urine sample in one quick and easy process. It can check specific gravity, nitrite, pH, glucose, ketones, blood, leukocytes, billirubin, protein and urobillinogen.

A brother and sister scientist team from Not Your Ordinary School (NYOS) Charter High School in Austin described a vehicle using garbage fuel and solar power. Eleventh grader Victoria Streusand and tenth grader David Streusand (children of Barry and Marie) are the masterminds for the transportation/environment creation, Mother earth -- help ease her pain. Garbage fuel is organic garbage that has been decomposed with bacteria into organic oil, which can be used in fuels. The fuel is economically and environmentally friendly. Improved solar panels are included in the vehicle that help charge the battery. These vehicles would help keep the world cleaner and safer. Sean Haley is the principal and Carla Silber is the science teacher.

In new materials, West Brook High School of Beaumont won with their article entitled, New cars save lives. Students Tarannum Jaleel, Muniba Riaz and Elizabeth Leary created a new metal polymer that is more shock absorbent in cars. This will protect the lives of teenage drivers. Rodney Caveness is the principal and Stephanie Driscole is the advanced and pre-placement chemistry teacher.

Articles in the Society's popular "Chemagination" contest were limited to 1,000 words and submissions included drawings, diagrams, illustrations, chemical descriptions and technological considerations. Winning team members shared a $300 U.S. Savings Bond in each category. Entries were solicited from Texas students in conjunction with the Society's Southwest regional meeting, Nov. 3-6.
-end-
EDITOR'S NOTE: Photos are available of the student winners and may be obtained by contacting Sharon Worthy at s_worthy@acs.org or by calling 202-872-4371.

American Chemical Society

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