Using Science to Change the World

NIHF STEM Student Project Designed for Those in Need
Posted on 04/27/2018
Image of Jackson Tankersley(courtesy Maria Lindsay, Akron.com/West Side Leader)

One student at Akron Public Schools’ National Inventors Hall of Fame Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) High School is using science to make a difference for people in low-income countries.

Senior Jackson Tankersley, of Kent, is headed to his eighth state level Ohio Academy of Science State Science Day, set for May 12 at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Academy officials said the agency fosters curiosity, discovery and innovation and problem-solving skills to benefit society through its science fairs.

Tankersley’s project for the science fair this year — titled, “Bioelectricity Changes in Urine Microbial Fuel Cells Inoculated with Livestock Solid Waste Slurry” — continues a focus to help those most in need. He explained the project involves using urine and livestock feces to generate electricity, and he said he hopes it can help women who are afraid to go out at night because of the darkness.

“My projects have been practical,” said Tankersley. “I want to make a difference in the world, and the science fairs give me that chance.”

According to the school’s honors and Advanced Placement biology and honors physical learning coach Cassandra Hanna, the science fair provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and application of the design process and passions for STEM.

Hanna said the first phase of the science fair begins with teachers assigning or encouraging students, individually or in teams, to develop a project in any science-related field. Students took those projects to the Akron Public Schools’ STEM Expo Jan. 27. Those who earned a “Superior” rating for their project, as judged by professionals and educators from a variety of STEM fields, moved on to the Western Reserve District 5 Regional Science Fair held at The University of Akron March 17. The same requirement was made for students participating in that event to move on to the State Science Day.

Tankersley said science fairs are “cool and fun.”

“They get a nerdy rap, but they are really a good opportunity for research,” he said.

He said his favorite science project was using green coconut water to kill bacteria in contaminated water. In addition to earning a “Superior” rating for his science fair projects over the years, Tankersley said he has earned numerous special awards. He added he hopes to get his projects published one day.

Tankersley said he “likes science a lot,” but he is “passionate about changing the world and helping those who need it most.” He plans to focus on this at Colorado State University next year.

Tankersley was one of seven from the school to qualify for the state competition. Others from the school and their projects include:
  • John Benson, a multi-year participant in the ninth grade, “How Different Shapes of Copper Wire in Homopolar Motors Change Maximum RPM”;
  • Zaq Brown, a multi-year participant in the ninth grade, “The Effects of Using Nonpneumatic Tires Rather than Pneumatic Tires on Emergency Vehicles”;
  • Nate Brown, a first-time participant in the ninth grade, “How Accurately Can Different Chatbot Algorithms Simulate a Human?”;
  • Darrell Davis and Jordan Dickerson, first-time participants in the ninth grade, “Project Clean the Air-First Time State Science Fair Participants”; and
  • Kouta Tabata, a multi-year participant in the ninth grade, “Different Apple Peel Polymers and Their Absorption Rates Phase 2.”

Also, ninth-graders Angelo Smith and Marcus Gillespie earned a “Superior” rating for “Emotions and Footsteps” at the school district’s STEM Expo but not at regionals, and therefore will not advance to the state competition.

“This is the first year that we have had this many STEM learners advance to the state Science Fair,” said Hanna. “We are very proud of our learners’ accomplishments. We would also like to thank the supportive parents, teachers, mentors, instructional leader Dina Popa and science curriculum specialist Katrina Halasa for their dedication to our learners.”

Image of Jackson Tankersley
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