Maine High School Students Presenting Biodiesel Research at MIT

Well, buddy Bobby has already figured out that I’m a sucker for a story about students and sustainability. This morning, he forwarded this article from MaineToday.com about two high school seniors at Cumberland, Maine’s Greely High School who have discovered a strain of algae that works really well for producing biodiesel:

In a nutshell, [Holly Jacobson and Tessa Churchill] may have found a way to produce more biodiesel fuel while consuming fewer organic resources.

The project got its start two years ago when Jacobson and Churchill began examining natural oils stored in fatty acids — called lipids — in various forms of marine algae. Recently, they identified a strain of algae that produces more oil for a given mass.

They are at MIT to present their findings to a panel of university judges, who will weigh their project against those of three other teams in the regional finals of the sixth annual Siemens Math, Science & Technology competition.

The event is sponsored each year by The College Board and is funded by the Siemens Foundation as a way to give students a chance to achieve national recognition for science research projects.

Now, this isn’t just your average high school science fair — these young ladies had to write a scientific paper describing the project and its results to get to the semi-final round. Should they win this regional competition, they’re off to New York City for all the marbles and a $100,000 scholarship. According to Jim Whaley, president of the Siemen’s Foundation, “A lot of these kids are doing work at a Ph.D level.”

Very impressive — I wish these young women the best! Even if they don’t win, they’ve done some very impressive work in a very hot field (but I’ll bet they really want to win). Congratulations!

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