Sport and Medical Sciences Academy Student Receives the H. Joseph Gerber Medal of Excellence from CT Center for Advanced Technology

Sport and Medical Sciences Academy Student Receives the H. Joseph Gerber Medal of Excellence from CT Center for Advanced Technology

Madison Lee is an 8th grader at the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy. She has been impressing her science teachers with her investigations into “Natural Plastic” (made out of milk products) since the 6th grade. Madison placed first in the school science fair when she was in 6th grade and took her project a step further in 7th grade. Her project was entered into the 2016 Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair and Madison won many honors for her project. She went on to win more awards this year at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair this year with her project on the Biodegradibility of Natural Plastic this year.

On May 22nd, Madison and her family attended an awards ceremony held at UCONN, Storrs during which Madison received the H. Joseph Gerber Medal of Excellence, award certificates from the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology and a $1000 award. A list of the many awards she received follows:

* Pepsico Physical Sciences Awards — 5th Place- Physical Sciences 8th Grade Ind. – trophy

* CASE Urban School Challenge Awards with Aetna, IBM, & Travelers — 1st Place Middle School

– $300 and Trophy, Medallion

* Sustainable Resources and Practices Awards — Middle School Finalist – Medallion

* UTC Aerospace Systems Awards for Excellence in Engineering — 1st Place- Engineering 8th

grade- $500 & trophy and Invitation Compete in Broadcom MASTERS

* Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering Middle School Urban School Challenge Award –

— Urban School Challenge 1st MS- $250 Cash Award, Invite to attend CASE’s Annual Mtg & $500

to School Science Department for Equipment/Supplies

* Alexion Biotechnology Awards — 2nd Place- Biotechnology 8th grade- $300 & trophy and

Invitation Compete in Broadcom MASTERS

* NASA EARTH System Science Award — Certificate and $25 gift card given by CSEF

* Air and Waste Management Association, Connecticut Chapter — $100 Junior, Environmental

Research, waste recycling related

* Urban School Challenge 1st Place Middle School Awards — Highest Placing 8th grader- GENIUS-

Olympiad Competition -$500 travel stipend

* GENIUS Olympiad — GENIUS Olympiad Competition for Highest Placing USC 8th grade Project

Here is Maddie’s abstract so that you can get a glimpse of what her project was all about.

About 15 billion tons of plastic is produced globally every year and more than 100 million tons of plastic debris ends up in the ocean. This debris threatens the health of marine life. Plastic piles up in landfills and releases toxins into the soil and water, which harms both people and wildlife. I wanted to come up with a solution to this problem so I conducted an experiment to invent “natural” plastic made of milk.  The purpose of this experiment is to test the biodegradability of my milk plastic against the commercial plastics. I hope to show that instead of using harmful man-made plastics, we can transition to more sustainable, natural plastic.

To test how different kinds of plastic wear down over time, I tracked the weight loss of two kinds of milk plastic and two kinds of commercial plastic when exposed to different environments.  I put samples of 2% milk plastic, whole milk plastic, bottle plastic, and floor mat plastic into ocean water, soil, and sunlight which mimics where discarded plastic ends up. I hypothesized that the milk plastic substitutes would biodegrade at a much faster rate than the commercial plastics in each test. The experimental results support my hypothesis because the milk plastics lost anywhere from 8% to 91.5% of their total weight, whereas the commercial plastics had negligible degradation. Using milk plastic that has the characteristic of commercial plastic but is biodegradable will prevent us from depleting our resources and causing further ecological damage.