Students earn national recognition for science research

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published April 10, 2013

 Harper Woods Middle School students won the Lexus Eco Challenge for their scientific research.

Harper Woods Middle School students won the Lexus Eco Challenge for their scientific research.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

HARPER WOODS — For the last two years, a group of middle school students are on fire as they win award after award for their work in the water.

Last year, as seventh-graders, students in June Teisan’s Future Think class researched water quality. This year, a small crew of eighth-grade students didn’t want to stop that research, so they  took it even further.

That scientific work has earned them multiple awards in the last couple of years, including the recent news that they’ve received some more national recognition.

“My team of student-scientists have won another award with the Lexus Eco Challenge. Each student is receiving a $1,250 check, and this is in addition to the $800 check received in November. Not too shabby.

“They’re a good group,” she said of the students.

The student winners are Tony Cichocki, Emily Jaminet, Deshawn Wafer, Camei Pennington, Brian Lucas, Chris Gaffrey, Sam Reynolds and Harmony Skerritt.

Last year, the students conducted a research project concerning local bodies of water and pollution using buoys to collect data for evaluation by the University of Connecticut.

They didn’t want their work to stop as they moved out of the Future Think class into eighth grade.

“They just wanted to delegate more to the research before and after school and (on) weekends,” Teisan said.

Teisan helped the students connect with teachers around the world whom she met when she went to Prague for the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum.

“This year, we actually partnered globally,” Jaminet said.

They connected with teachers in China, South Korea, Brazil and more.

“Pollution is affecting people all over the world, not just the United States,” Gaffrey said.

“A lot of people don’t have clean water to drink,” Reynolds said.

The students said that they have learned how fortunate they are in this part of the world.

Wafer said he wasn’t surprised with this latest award because they have won a few times before and he said, “What we did was very good.”

“We did good research and we put a lot into it,” Wafer added.

However, Jaminet said that to be chosen out of so many schools in the country was surprising.

Their work this year fit right into what the Lexus Eco Challenge looks for in their recipients.

“The Lexus Eco Challenge encourages teens to start local and then go global,” stated a press release from the program.

The students created a website for their work, as well.

While he said winning awards is nice, Gaffrey said they ultimately want “to better the environment.”

As for next year, the group of budding scientists in Harper Woods hopes to find even more ways to keep doing scientific research when they head over to the high school.

The students wanted to thank June Teisan and their previous student teacher, Alexandra Beels, for their guidance and work with the students on the project.

They have “done a lot,” Skerritt said.