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Westside Middle School students head to Connecticut Science Fair

Ten WSMSA students to head to Connecticut Science Fair                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Kushi Parikh, an eighth-grade student at Westside Middle School Academy, has an interest in data science and machine learning. So, for her Science Fair project, she designed a software application that can detect Lyme disease from a photo image with 90 percent accuracy.

Her “Image Recognition Used to Detect Lyme” project is one of 10 from her school that will compete in the 70th annual Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair next month. The other nine seventh- and eighth-grade STEM students from her school are Timothy Chen, Alice Collignon, Paloma Lenz, Mathew Mathew, Alex Morquecho, Aidan Scott, PJ Seiler, Vincent Trombetto and Stella Walker. In 2016, WSMSA was recognized as the most successful middle school in the state at the competition after eight of ten WSMSA were selected as finalists.

The school’s Science Fair was held in the WSMSA main hallway while nearly two dozen judges, including scientists, engineers and teachers, viewed their projects and asked questions. Started in the fall semester, the projects had to involve physical or life science, or engineering.

Timothy Chen is interested in a future in renewable energy. His concern of late has been that wind turbine can’t be used in urban areas due to inadequate wind speeds. Therefore, his project “The Effect of Spiral Spacing of a Horizontal Axis Spiral Wind Turbine on Conversion Efficiency” focused on researching the most efficient blade. He counted rotation speed to determine which of three blades was the most likely to get the best result.

“There was a significant improvement this year in three areas: overall originality and creativity of projects; data collection and that everyone had some sort of graph; and the writing has improved – it’s more robust and concise,” said WSMSA STEM theme coach Jon Neuhausel.

Stella Walker investigated “The Effect of Barometric Pressure on the Speed of WiFi,” knowing already that humidity and temperature affect speed. She learned, through her hands-on research that included making a barometric chamber, that it had no effect. But Stella found the research, itself, interesting. She had thought about doing a life science project, but couldn’t find a topic. The project gave her a different attitude toward science.

“I want to be a trauma surgeon, so I was going to do a life science project,” she said. “I realized that I should have a more open mind when it comes to science.”

Student Paloma Lenz is concerned about the environment, so it was only natural that her project involves cleaning up stormwater pollution. She found that zeolites (microporous minerals that absorb ammonia and nitrates) are helpful in cleaning pollutants such as fertilizer from stormwater. She said it just needs to be introduced in the storm drain to filter the water before it travels to a watershed. In order to come to this conclusion, she ended up doing multiple tests and trials for the proper balance.

“I learned that I am passionate about helping the environment – relieving it from some of the issues we impose on it,” she said.

The Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair will be held in mid-March at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.

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