Rocky Run Middle School; Chantilly, Va.
Team Members: Raghav Ramraj, Matthew Sun, Jasper Treakle and Mary Erdeljon (Team Advisor)
The “Project Radiance” team set out to identify an alternative to traditional heating and cooling methods that require fossil fuels, a nonrenewable energy source that causes air pollution and contributes to global warming. The team discovered geothermal heating and cooling, a remarkably cost-efficient and eco-friendly process, and visited a geothermal heating facility to interview a professional to gain more insight into its real world applications. The students built a model of a geothermal system simulating summer and winter in their home state of Virginia using engineering skills and a variety of materials; including an aquarium, soil, plastic tubing for liquid circulation, a water pump, a thermometer and other tools. Using math for data analysis, their results proved that in both seasons, geothermal heating is effective. In addition to a Facebook page and a blog, the team created a set of surveys with an informative PowerPoint to educate its community and assess their knowledge of geothermal heating.