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Middle school students win science award

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published April 23, 2012

 The teens from Harper Woods Middle School work on a project during their scientific research this year.

The teens from Harper Woods Middle School work on a project during their scientific research this year.

Photo provided by pollutionpreventers.weebly.com

HARPER WOODS — Waking up early in the morning to work on an intensive science project isn’t something many young teens want to do, but a team of four seventh-graders’ hard work and early mornings paid off with some recognition.

The “Pollution Preventers” have been studying water pollution through a process that included building Basic Information Flotations, or BIFs, and taking the analysis equipment to Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair to collect scientific information, which was then sent to the University of Connecticut for evaluation through professor Penny Vlahos at the university.

The Harper Woods Middle School students submitted their work to the 2011-2012 eCYBERMISSION Competition. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“They won first place in the state,” their science teacher, June Teisan, said, adding that each will receive $500 for the win.

The team consists of Chris Gaffrey, Deshawn Wafer, Brian Lucas and Anthony Cichocki, and their work started while they were all in Teisan’s Future Think class.

Middle school teacher Kerry Krueger helped the students build the BIFs, and Alexandra Beels, a student teacher in Teisan’s classroom, helped them set up their own Weebly site at pollutionpreventers.weebly.com.

“It was a long process, very long,” Wafer said.

“We didn’t really know much about the situation,” he said, adding that “as we got further into the work, we really started to like it.”

They wanted to do more — coming in before school once a week and staying after and devoting more of their own time to science. Next year, they hope to continue their scientific study and build on what they’ve learned this year.

The teens say they were happy when they got word recently that they won the competition in the seventh-grade division.

“We worked extra hard, so we knew we were going to be successful,” Wafer said.

“We know about runoff and what causes pollution, how to stop pollution, what is in our lakes,” Wafer said.

“We’re the Great Lakes State and in 15 years, if the lake is poisonous, it’s not going to be that great,” Gaffrey said.

The students were able to do a lot of the scientific-type work that they’ve done this year thanks to grant funding.

“It was a very robust, authentic, scientific investigation,” Teisan said.

A team of female science students in the middle school are awaiting word if they placed in a separate competition for their work.