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Valero and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Coastal Bend Regional Science Fair

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2017 Regional Results


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2016 Texas State Science & Engineering Fair Results

SENIOR DIVISION AWARDS

  • 3rd Place, Life Sciences, Microbiology: Tatiana Ortiz (Grade 9), Flour Bluff High School. Gloves are no Guarantee! Modifying Surgical Gloves to Reduce Microbial Transfer
    • Abstract: Hospital acquired infections are infections that patients catch from the hospital environment or staff. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hospital acquired infections infect 1.7 million patients and kill 99,000 in the US each year at a cost of $4.5 to $11 billion. Surgical site infections, a type of hospital acquired infection, affect 500,000 people annually, and are caused when a patient is exposed to microorganisms during surgery. One surface that spreads pathogenic microbes during surgery are the gloves that the surgeons and medical personnel wear. Studies have shown that when exposed to e-coli bacteria, gloves transfer more of the bacteria than bare hands alone. The purpose of this project was to see if modifying surgical gloves with 4 different types of anti-microbial / anti-adhesion products, could decrease the rate, and number, of microorganisms transferred by the gloves. In this experiment, surgical gloves were treated with Sharklet-film, Pledge-Multi, Sani-Shield and Colloidal-Silver; sterilized with UV-C light; exposed to contaminated surgical rulers; cultured, plated and incubated for 24 hours. The results showed that, modifying surgical gloves with either Sharklet anti-adhesion film or Sani-Shield barrier coating can decrease the average rate of microorganism transfer via surgical gloves by 44%. The Sani-Shield also decreased the average number of colonies transferred by 97%. In conclusion, surgical gloves modified with anti-adhesion products could be used to decrease both the rate, and quantity, of microorganisms transferred during surgery; and possibly reduce the number of costly and potentially lethal surgical site infections.

JUNIOR DIVISION AWARDS

2nd Place, Physical Sciences, Environmental Engineering: Nikolai Ortiz (Grade 7), Seashore Academy. Finding a Solution to Heavy Metal Water Pollution

Abstract: Heavy metals are one of the most serious pollutants in our environment due to their toxicity (to both human and marine life); persistence and bioaccumulation.  Last year, the greatest source of acidic, heavy metal water pollution was found in the runoff ditches near local roads and highways in Corpus Christi, TX.  Corpus does not use any type of remediation to remove toxic heavy metals from storm water runoff - it flows unfiltered into the local waterways.  The purpose of this study was to find a natural media that could be used as an eco-friendly heavy metal filter in storm water runoff pipes.  Varying concentrations and quantities of acidic, lead and copper solutions were filtered through calcite crystals, limestone, seashells, crushed coral, magnesium oxide, rose quartz, volcanic zeolite and Bentonite clay.  The resulting filtrate was tested for lead, copper and pH using a multistep chemical and photometric process.  Calcite crystals, limestone and crushed coral initially removed some of the heavy metals and acid but failed after repeated exposure to the higher metal concentrations.  Magnesium oxide removed the most lead and copper from water with the highest heavy metal contamination for the longest repeated exposure.  It also significantly decreased the water acidity. This finding is important because acidification of runoff water containing heavy metals results in the release of these heavy metals into the environment. These findings suggest that an end-of-the-pipe filter combining several of the tested media might be effective in decreasing acidity and removing heavy metals from storm water runoff.