ASR and ATP students unveil fall projects, findings

Tommy Stolpestad, The Rubicon Editor

As the end of the first semester is drawing to an end, students at St. Paul Academy and Summit School are finishing up classes and projects that they have been working on throughout this year. On Tuesday, Dec 11, students who have been working on Advanced Science Research (ASR) and Advanced Technology (ATP) projects were able to showcase their own unique projects to parents, teachers, and other members of the SPA community. These projects were topics chosen by the students that focused on gaining research from working in various places throughout Minnesota to answer their hypothesis question.

Junior Brennan Keogh spent the first semester of this year researching if the invasive species, Eurasian watermilfoil, could act as a substitution for conventional chemical fillant. He described the process he took to collect the data:

“I went out to White Bear Lake and then I collected some Eurasian watermilfoil from there. After that I ground it up using an electric coffee grinder until it was a powder and then I applied it directly to the soil and mixed it up in different concentrations,” Keogh said.

After going out and gathering the materials needed for the project he started collecting data and finding the results of his project.

“I analyzed which plants grew the best based on height and mass. At the end of it the Eurasian watermilfoil, unfortunately, decreased both the mass and height, however the highest concentration [of Eurasian watermilfoil] did significantly increase the percentage of germination,” Keogh said. 

My favorite part was getting results that I didn’t expect, that was interesting

Similar to Brennan Keogh’s project, senior Maggie Hlavka focused on environmental science and did her ASR project on the effects of climate change and species evenness on tallgrass prairie plants. After spending one semester last school year and the first semester of this school year doing research, she was able to gather her findings.

“In short what I found was that the growth of these two plants, babe lust, and Canada rye, which are common tallgrass prairie plants, are not affected by drought conditions or variable precipitation which is a result of climate change in North America. Canada wild rye had a consistently higher sprouting rate than babe lust. I suspect that this is because of the priority effects of Canada wild rye, it tends to sprout earlier and therefore get a better control of resources. This is likely to put big bluestem at a significant risk.”

Junior Nathan Sobotka did his ASR presentation on the effect of various plastics on the Wisconsin fast plant. Through doing his project he was able to test many variables on how plastics affected this plant.

“My favorite part was getting results that I didn’t expect, that was interesting,” Sobotka said. 

Sobotka explains that the plan moving forward for students working on ASR projects it to build on the research from the current semester. 

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