STEM-In-Action Fall Follow-Up: CO2

 It's Friday and you know what that means? Another opportunity to see what our stellar STEM-In-Action grant recipient teams are up to this Fall. In case you're new to eCYBERMISSION and don't know much about this grant opportunity, the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) STEM-In-Action Grant awards eCYBERMISSION teams up to $5,000 to develop their projects into mature and scalable solutions in their community. Normally, we award this honorary grant to five teams, but this year ten teams took home the prestigious award. This week, we're headed to the wild West to see what CO2 have been doing to make their West Fargo community a better place to live.


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We are team CO2 from West Fargo, ND. Our team members are comprised of four 8th graders (Emma, Alexa, Kaitlyn, and Sullivan), and we currently attend Liberty Middle School. The concept for this  project originated with Kaitlyn and Emma who worked together on a project earlier in the 7th grade  focusing on the effects of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Together we came up with a solution to  help reduce or collect carbon dioxide in our environment. This project inspired us to expand our focus to climate change and pursue eCybermission to test out our ideas.  



Creating our eCyber team, started with Emma and Kaitlyn finding additional team members by  doing a survey regarding commitment to the project, what strengths they could bring to the team, and  their interest in the topic of climate change. Afterwards it was apparent that our two new teammates  would be Sullivan and Alexa. Our team was finally complete, and everyone couldn’t have been more  excited to get started! 


After further research our team settled on improving the following issue found in our  community regarding eutrophication, also known as having too many nutrients in lakes from increasing  amounts of phosphorus runoff which was found in our area fertilizers. This results in algae blooms that  impact the ecosystems in our area bodies of water.  


Our solution came to fruition after talking with area experts at in the College of Engineering at  North Dakota State University and our mentors. We created a biochar iron nano-particle filtration  system, which in short is just our way of filtering phosphorus from farmland runoff. Our plan is to  incorporate our prototype into the drain tile pipes located on area farmland within our community. This  would allow us to filter out the phosphorus before the water carries it to other water sources like rivers or lakes. We plan to do this by creating a permeable filter that is a circular shape, while also including a  rim around the filter that fits snugly around the end of the pipe. This causes the water to filter through  the materials before it exits the pipe itself. 




Team CO2’s next steps are as follows: Finish conducting different test to ensure our materials  are effective and safe for the environment. Once we have ensured our product is safe, we will work  with Ellingson Drainage and test our design in the drain tile at Grand Farms in Horace, ND. COVID  restrictions, have proven to be a hinderance to our progress since getting into College of Engineering NDSU’s labs have proven to be difficult. We have been able to make some progress on our lab testing  with the help of our mentors. 


We have attended many kinds of events, including some at Emerging Prairie's Grand Farms. We  were able to learn about different Ag Tech companies in our community, while explaining our project to  others in the field. An added bonus was hearing how other Ag companies use the EDP and such to  innovate in their field. The currently company we enjoyed learning about and that stood out to use has  been Ellingson Drainage, which is a drain tile company based in our community. This company is one we  are proud to start partnering with and they are equally excited to see how we can collaborate. 



Our team plans to use our STEM -In-Action grant money to host an educational/informational  event, cover travel costs to different farms in our community, conduct different studies at North Dakota  State University, most importantly use the funds to help create different iterations of our prototype.  Until next time this is Team CO2 from West Fargo, ND.


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We may sound like a broken record at this point, but we still cannot believe the amazing feats and accomplishments these STEM students achieve. We cannot wait to catch up with CO2 in the Spring to see the progress they will have made.


-Mission Control

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