Marlborough School - An independent day school for girls grades 7-12

Alex V. '18 Takes Second Place in Engineering Research Category at LA County Science Fair

Alex V. '18 Takes Second Place in Engineering Research Category at LA County Science Fair

Alex has qualified for the California State Science Fair with her project "Can a Natural Filter Maintain Stable and Safe Water Chemistry Levels for a Salt Water Filter?"

In 9th grade, Alex V. '18 became interested in doing her own science research outside the classroom. Working with Marlborough Science Instructor Jay Buckley, she explored ideas around fish tank filtration, resulting in a two-year research project designing a natural filtration system for a saltwater fish tank.

Most current filters utilize chemicals and are made with pounds of plastic and inorganic materials. Once a filter is thrown away, it takes years to decompose, often making its way to the oceans and harming marine life.

Instead, Alex's filtration system uses all organic materials, including rocks, sand, mud, gravel, and mangrove plants. After four months of monitoring the water chemistry of her 55-gallon saltwater tank, she saw ammonia and nitrate levels reduce, concluding that the organic filter is a viable alternative to a commercial filter with possible implications for creating a natural filtration system for fish farms.

Presenting her project, "Can a Natural Filter Maintain Stable and Safe Water Chemistry Levels for a Salt Water Filter?," at the LA County Science Fair was a new experience for Alex.

"It was very intimidating to be around people who had been competing at science fairs since 5th grade and many other very interesting projects. The judges were all very friendly, and after the first 30 minutes it became much easier," said Alex. "Overall it was a fun learning experience."

Winning second place in the Engineering Research category, Alex has qualified for the California State Science Fair, which includes 900 projects competing for awards totaling $60,000 and a chance to move on to the Intel ISEF Fair.

The California State Science Fair will be taking place at the California Science Center on April 24th -25th.

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