When the sixth-grade scientists first learned about genetically modified organisms, they were just as skeptical as many adults.
But then the team of Memorial Park Middle School students – Nick Chapman, Aubrey Cephart, Rey Valui and Simon Twiss, all age 12 – set out to investigate whether the GMO foods were as harmful as the critics claimed.
With the help of adviser Larry Lesh, a former Fort Wayne Community Schools teacher, and Teresa Beam, chairwoman of the University of Saint Francis’ biology department, and the use of a lab at the university, the students began to conduct their research.
GMOs are organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering.
In their first experiment, the students analyzed 40 samples of foods containing corn and tested the samples for traces of GMO DNA.
Conducting several tests and experiments was important to their research, Twiss explained.
“Three tests is a good number because you want at least three in any scientific experiment so you know you’re getting enough information,” he said.
For the second experiment, the students tested whether the GMO cornmeal was harmful to fruit flies.
They inserted male and female fruit flies and kept track of how many there were, Cephart explained.
As the flies continued to reproduce, counting them became one of the most difficult parts of the experiment, she said.
“Sometimes we were counting 500 flies,” she said. “And they were in this little jar all moving around.”
The GMO scientists also took their project to two competitions where they won first place in the state eCybermission competition and also participated in the Christopher Columbus Awards, a competition for young scientists.
Each student received a $500 prize as part of the eCybermission competition. The prize came in the form of a U.S. savings bond.
•The following local students were awarded scholarships from the University of Michigan club of Fort Wayne: Ian McKenzie and Emily Svitek of Homestead High School and Alex Nickel of Angola. All three will be attending the University of Michigan.
•Building Contractors Association of Northeast Indiana recently awarded $1,500 Presidental Merit Scholarships to Douglas Collier and Jennifer Snell.
•Alexander Morrone, an Earlham College senior, received the college’s Simon Scholarship and Travel Grant. He is the son of Deb Morrone of Fort Wayne and Frank Morrone of Maywood, New Jersey.
•The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation recently announced Heather Harmeyer, of Fort Wayne, was recently named a 2014 Indiana teaching fellow. Harmeyer now lives in Indianapolis.
•Carroll High School senior Erin Carpenter received the first Kris Thiele Memorial Scholarship. Kris Thiele was a Maple Creek Middle School special education teacher who died in January after a battle with cancer.
•Audrey C. Roth, of Carroll High School, was named a National Merit Indiana University Bloomington Scholarship.
•The Kosciuszko Foundation will offer a $2,000 scholarship to 30 undergraduate students of Polish origin studying in the U.S. and pursuing degrees at the intersection of media, communication, political science, social studies, law and administration. Students seeking careers in media, government and public affairs are particularly encouraged to apply. Applications will be accepted through July 31 and scholarship awards will be distributed for the fall semester of the 2014-15 academic year.
•Patrick Herendeen, James Franklin and Kevin Miller – all Cyber Technology students at Ivy Tech – placed in the 2014 United States and Canada international CCNA and CCENT Cisco NetRiders competitions. Herendeen and Franklin finished 19th and 87th, respectively, in North America in the Cisco Certified Network Associate competition, which tests students on the full four semesters of their coursework. Miller finished 102nd in the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician competition, which tests students on their first two semesters of coursework.
•Ivy Tech Community College placed in the top 25 schools for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning degree programs by HVACclasses.org.
•Ivy Tech recently hired JoAnne Alvarez, new student services professional in the Express Enrollment Center; Kristopher Roberts, program chair of Computer Information Systems; Michael Clouse, program chair of Aviation Technology; and Alexander Jovanovich, associate network engineer.