Two students at Hayes High School were recently awarded $1,000 scholarships and have been entered into a state competition for their science research project.
Hayes seniors Brynn McGrail and Caylee Combs were two of more than 30 students from 28 high schools named as winners during The Ohio Academy of Science’s “Believe in Ohio” program, which promotes STEM and entrepreneurship, and teaches students how to commercialize products and services that are driven by innovation.
The students were awarded the scholarships after the regional competition and entered into the running for the state competition, which will take place in June. At the state competition, students will compete for $250,000 in total scholarship awards.
McGrail said their project, which they have been working on for four years, centers around duckweed and it’s use as a fertilizer.
“Each year has built on the other towards the study of using duckweed as a natural fertilizer to prevent polluted runoff,” McGrail said. “We’re really interested in tools for sustainability, and we’re excited to be finding that duckweed has the ability to be used as an alternative to commercial fertilizer.”
McGrail added they improve on the project each year. For example, this year they learned about the commercialization process. McGrail said commercializing duckweed and turning it into a viable product would be the ultimate goal for the project.
“We also had to think more about the legitimate pricing and creation of the product, which was new for us, but exciting to see our research go in this direction,” she said.
Combs said she was “really excited” when she found out about the scholarship and learned they were advancing to the state competition.
“We’ve worked really hard on our project the past four years, and it was nice to receive something that will help us continue our education,” Combs said.
McGrail said the project has opened up a world of possibilities as she prepares for life after high school.
“I’m glad we submitted our project to this different competition, and it opened my eyes to the possibility of the entrepreneurship and innovation side of environmental sciences that I’m interested in pursuing in the future.”
The projects now move onto the state competition. Unlike the state science fair, students can’t change things about their projects before the next competition.
McGrail said she’s proud of their work regardless of how the state competition goes.
“We are honestly just happy we did well at the regional level, so now we just wait and see how we’ll do at the state level, and either way, I think we’re proud of our project, especially in the other things we’ve achieved over the four years,” McGrail said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll do well.”
Likewise, Combs said she’s excited to hear the results of the competition.
“We’ve put so much time and effort into our project, and I think our commercialization plan with four years of research behind it has a good chance of doing well at the state level,” Combs said.
As for their plans moving forward, McGrail said she hasn’t decided between several colleges yet, but she’s planning to study environmental science or environmental engineering. Combs said she plans to study pre-veterinarian with an emphasis on equine sciences at the University of Findlay.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.