Every Nebraskan, keep your fingers crossed for 18 year old Lakeview High School student in Columbus, Mikayla Messing. She is in Los Angeles competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She is one of 1,500 students from 65 countries competing. Mikayla says her project falls under the environmental category.
“My project is using aquatic plants to remove water contaminants and I came to doing this project when I saw some very murky water flowing into very clean looking streams and rivers and I wanted to find a solution to this problem in a way that would remove the pollutants before they reached our environment without needing to use a treatment plant.”
Mikayla says there was trial and error in coming up with a solution to her project. She says the fourth time was the charm.
“I finally ended up with the best solution by using bubble wrap. I would take my algae and inject it into the bubble wrap cells and then I would use this in the filtering devise and run my contaminated water through the system. Each time I did this the concentration of those pollutants would go down each time.”
Mikayla says this has been a nail-biting experience and she presented her project several times.
“Spent about 10 hours waiting around to be judged by special judges, grand award judges and category judges. Tonight, the special awards judges are expected to have their decisions made and then tomorrow we have the ceremony of the category winners and the grand award judges.”
Along with presenting her project to be judged, another group showed interest in what Mikayla was doing.
“I had a whole bunch of environmental people from EPA teams who were really, really excited about my project. I actually got a business card from one of them. There is a lot of opportunity with that.”
In true Nebraska form, Mikayla says no matter the turn out, being able to compete with her idea has been an experience she will never forget.
“Even if I don’t get anything I have had some wonderful experiences here. I’m hoping for the best. I think my interviews went pretty well.”