Spotlight on the Sixth Grade, Southeast Regional First Place Team: Mighty Peaches

Four sixth graders from the Charlotte Latin School in Charlotte, N.C., received a first-place award in this year’s national eCYBERMISSION competition. With this award, each team member will receive a $3,000.00 U.S. EE Savings Bond, a certificate of recognition from the U.S. Army and an expenses-paid trip to the National Judging and Educational Event (NJ&EE) in Baltimore, Md., in June to present their final projects.

The “Mighty Peaches” team, comprised of students Emma Haseley, Hayley Hammond, Melanie Gamble and Robert Salisbury, and led by Team Advisor Sharon Oats, was recognized by judges for its investigation into silver-nano particles (Ag-NPs). Specifically, the students researched the removal of Ag-NPs from clothing during a washing cycle in a washing machine, and the potential for these Ag-NPs to contaminate the water being sent to the waste water treatment plants.

The students tested their hypothesis by conducting an experiment with socks that did not contain Ag-NPs and socks that have been treated with Ag-NPs. The team purchased three pairs of socks, called “X-System 13” Crew Socks Olive Drab, that were advertised as containing Ag-NPs. The team also purchased a 125 mL spray bottle of anti-fungal spray (MesoSilver), so that they could treat their own socks with silver nano-particles, as suggested by the company’s web site.

After completing their experiments, the students concluded that because the only difference between the control group (cotton sock not treated with Ag-NP) and the experimental groups (socks already containing Ag-NPs and socks that were treated with the Ag-NP spray) was the Ag-NPs, then the Ag-NPs entered the distilled water from the socks.

Through their research, the students also discovered that Ag-NPs are being used in textiles because of the natural antibacterial properties of silver and that many scientists are concerned about the effects of these Ag-NPs on the environment. The team found that if this use of this technology continues and increases, Ag-NPs may affect “clean” drinking water by killing the beneficial bacteria that are used in the waste water treatment plants.
In the future, the team plans to test other brands of pre-treated socks to see if they lose more or less nano-particles into the rinse water. In addition, the team plans to experiment with tap water versus distilled water to see if the chemicals that treat tap water might also cause a difference. Finally, the team plans to add laundry detergent to the experiments to better simulate the laundry process.

To see a full list of the 2009-2010 eCYBERMISSION regional winning teams, click here.  


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