Three students are national finalists in the Siemens “We Can Change the World” challenge for their project on tackling pollution from farm runoff on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, according to a release by the Siemens Foundation.
Team Duckweed includes Stefanie Biondi, Kendal Crawford and Ginal Lee. The team was concerned with the dangerously large dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay caused by agricultural runoff. The young scientists designed a system to filter farm runoff through bioremediation with duckweed plants.
Thanks to their efforts and ingenuity, the team—under the guidance of Tanya Marushak—has a chance to win more than $50,000 in prizes and scholarships, according to a release by the Siemens Foundation.
“[Team Duckweed] used quantitative testing to confirm Duckweed’s nitrogen removal capability and found that it reduced the nitrogen content of waste water by 28.5 percent,” according to the release. “They are currently creating a working small scale model of a farm with a Duckweed filtration system.”
The team was recognized through a rigorous three-part judging process that analyzed the students’ ability to creatively present a viable solution to some of the country’s greatest environmental issues.
“Since its inception, the Challenge has always been about finding tomorrow’s environmental leaders where they are right now—right within our schools,” said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation in the release. “Every year, some of the nation’s brightest students amaze us.”
After being named as the Maryland finalist, Team Duckweed is set to go against 20 other teams throughout the country. All state finalists receive a “green prize pack” for each team member regardless of who wins. National winners will be announced on May 30, according to the release.
Past winners have gone on to change school policy, open neighborhoods to new ideas and even inspire politicians, according to the release.