2018 Winners of INAEP's Special Recognition Awards (Junior Division, Grades 4-8)
1st Place, INAEP Award of Excellence in Environmental Science
Certificate and $200 Award
Tom Huynh
Maple Creek Middle School, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Shining Light on the Water and Electricity Crisis
Modern technology creates many problems such as climate change and the exploitation of energy such as that of fossil fuels. These problems seem as if they have no solution and that the fate of Earth is hopeless. However, the concept of my project is to design, to engineer, and to manufacture a product that is able to solve all of these problems. It will consist of two chambers, which will take in air as an energy source. It will then separate into two apparatuses, which will accomplish the tasks of supplying sustainable energy in the form of light and exportable energy in an outlet and supply a sustainable amount of clean drinking water. The project resulted in a final product that was able to fill the requirements set by the engineering goal and the research question. The product has since been sent to a manufacture and has been sent all around the world and has successfully solved the water and energy crisis in the region that is using it. This project shows that all problems are solvable, no matter how improbable they seem to be.
2nd Place, INAEP Award of Excellence in Environmental Science
Certificate and $125 Award
Raghav Sriram
Carmel Middle School, Carmel, Indiana
Corn Crazy
Walmart, Costco, Kroger, and other shopping companies use petroleum-based plastics anywhere in their stores from shopping bags to the packages they sell customers their products, these plastics have caused over 22 billion plastic water bottles to go to waste and hurts our ecosystem in unimaginable ways. This experiment will look into biodegradable bioplastics and see if they can replace traditional petroleum-based plastics. The hypothesis of this experiment is that the biodegradable bioplastic created will be stronger/more flexible than traditional petroleum-based plastics. The null hypothesis of this experiment is that the biodegradable bioplastic created will be the equivalent to the standards of a traditional petroleum-based plastics. The bioplastics were made using a set of ingredients and ratios that were predetermined at the beginning of this experiment. The strength of the bioplastic that was created was tested using a force gauge in which a person made a hole in the middle of the plastic and then pulled down on until the plastic tore, the number of newtons applied to the plastic until in tore was written down. After doing this process many times with different types of bioplastics the experiment data supported the experiment’s hypothesis by having a greater amount of newtons applied until the plastic tore compared to a control group of petroleum-based shopping bags. In conclusion, this experiment showed how the bioplastics created were stronger and more efficient than traditional petroleum-based plastics and could someday replace these plastics.
3rd Place, INAEP Award of Excellence in Environmental Science
Certificate and $75 Award
Keira Yesh
Carmel Elementary School, Carmel, Indiana
Does Temperature Affect How Efficient Ferrofluids Clean Up Oil Spills?
The purpose of this experiment was to determine if temperature affects the efficiency of oil clean up when using ferrofluid and a magnet as the clean up technique. The hypothesis was if temperature of the water decreases, then the calculated efficiency of oil clean up will increase. The null hypothesis was that temperature of the water will have no effect on oil clean up efficiency. A range of five temperatures from 1℃ to 62℃ to represent a range of temperatures were used for the trials, some being ocean water temperatures found along the coastal regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and 5 drops of ferrofluid were added to the 2.5 mL of mineral oil plus 14 mL of water-filled petri dishes. A magnet was swept across the mineral oil to try and pick up the magnetic oil, and then a graduated cylinder was used to measure how much oil was picked up, finally determining the efficiency with a math formula. More oil was picked up when the magnet/ferrofluid technique was used in cold water. The most efficient oil clean up happened when the water temperatures were at their lowest. The least efficient oil clean up occurred when water temperatures were at the highest temperatures. The results supported the hypothesis. I learned that the colder the water is, the more efficient the oil clean up is.
Honorable Mention, INAEP Award of Excellence in Environmental Science
Arko Mukhopadhyay
West Lafayette Jr/Sr High School, West Lafayette, Indiana
Biodiesel efficiency
Biodiesel is a great renewable energy source. It is made from the fats of plants or animals. It combines high performance with environmental benefits. It has been reported that biodiesel combustion can result in less air pollutant emissions, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, except for slightly higher nitrogen oxides. The main feedstocks for biodiesel fuel are: Virgin oil, Waste vegetable oil (WVO), Animal fats, Algae, Oil from halophytes. Alkali or acid transesterification reaction is used for making biodiesel. Though alkali transesterification is a faster and efficient process but free fatty acids (FFA) is undesirable during reaction due to the formation of soap, yield loss, and increased difficulty in product separation. I chose three different feedstocks, soybean oil, corn oil, and canola oil, with varying amounts of FFA and triglycerides. Then I ran them each through the alkali-catalyzed transesterification reaction to turn the feedstock into biodiesel. After the reaction I tested for the amount of fallout, which is the lipids that were left unreacted in the transesterification reaction that did not dissolve in methanol. Next I did an efficiency test by making my own design of a lantern to burn biodiesel and check the rise in temperature of water. After I got my results I could conclude that the soybean oil transesterification reaction was the most efficient since it had the highest increase in temperature and least fallout. The experiment also showed that higher the content of FFA the worse the transesterification reaction.

Founded in 2006, the Indiana Association of Environmental Professionals (INAEP) is a not for profit, multidisciplinary association for individuals dedicated to the advancement of the environmental profession in the State of Indiana.  If you would like to contact us directly, we encouage you to send us a message through our "Contact Us" page.