On Monday, February 20, 2017, five volunteers from FWAS joined Jim Jones to judge student science and engineering projects for a Conservation Award at the 2017 Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair held at UTA College Park Center. The volunteers were Karen Rice, Mary Sanford, Chuck Voelker, Chuck Baskin, Shiela Shallcross. (Shiela was re-assigned to be a Category Judge for Plant Sciences when we learned there was a shortage of volunteers this year.) FWAS donated $400 to this year's event and provided judges for over 10 years. Thank you to our FWAS chapter-only members for their continued financial support. The funds we receive allows FWAS to find community events like this and help them to continue each year.

The judging process included reviewing a list of approximately 400 student projects and thinning the list down to about 40 that (by their title) met the FWAS mission statement of addressing environmental, conservation and wildlife concerns. We offer an award for both middle school and high school levels.

This year we chose the project Veto the Mosquito by T. Jade-Higgins, M. Obanigba and B. Chapman, students at Summit International High School. The team studied the effects on Aedes aegypti eggs when water is treated with kairomones from the Gambusia fish. They proved that larvae developmental duration was shortened which reduced the sexual size dimorphism. This result caused a lower number of egg production. (And yes, thank you to Wikipedia for assisting our panel with definitions as we read through the students’ notes!)

At the Middle School level we ended up with two notable projects. The award went to Keystone...Dominoes? A Study of the Centrochelys Suicate by B. Westbrook at the North Texas Academy of Higher Learning. The student observed and filmed the activities of an African Spurred Tortoise and the benefits this 40kg to 90kg adult tortoise has on its habitat and plant life as it burrows into the soil. The 7-day video of the tortoise’s activities was riveting.

Honorable mention went to a second middle school project: Impact of Tree (Canopy) Cover on Particulate Matter 2.5 Levels by K. Morton at the Holy Family Catholic MS. Using data collected by a TCEQ Air Monitoring and Weather Station, and a Hold Peak Laser PM2.5 meter, the student showed that parks and streets with tree cover had lower airborne particulate matter levels than similar areas with little to no tree cover.

If you would like information on how to take part in future events like this, or are qualified by past employment or college degree to join one of the 'category judging panels', please see Jim Jones at the general meeting for contact information. The fair is held each year in the middle of February.