Berwick AP Capstone Students going to Nationals!
Berwick Area High School students Jaida Geiser, Sophia Guerriero, and Sadie Zehner earned significant monetary awards and recognition after completing a year-long research project and presenting their project at the Capital Area Science & Engineering Fair (CASEF). Geiser, Guerriero, and Zehner are seniors participating in a two-year-long course sequence, AP Capstone, culminating in a year-long AP Research process. Each student in AP Research finds and establishes a research gap, defines a method of obtaining unique information to address that the gap then presents their results through writing, an oral presentation, and an academic poster.
Along with this process, the AP Research trio for 2022 chose to enter their research in CASEF. Geiser’s project “Effects of Nitrogen Supplementation on Athletic Performance” sought to find a healthful alternative for athletes looking to improve their performance, researching the effects of consuming nitrate-rich beet juice on athletic performance, which had been studied at the high-school level. She compared the results of ten high school students undergoing a training-to-exhaustion exercise, splitting the students into a juice-consuming group and a control group. The beet juice group produced an improved performance in VO2 levels computed from heart rates and gave strikingly different results in interviews when queried about their reaction to the exercise.
Jaida won awards from the Dauphin County Medical Society, Farzin Charitable Fund, the Office of Naval Research, a Love award for outstanding presentation and communication and the CASEF Category prize for Medicine & Health projects.
Guerriero’s project “Effects of Extended Sleep on High School Athletic Performance and Mood” sought to discover if increased sleep-time would benefit the mood and performance of high school athletes. She tested both boys and girls participating in swimming and basketball, using both timed practice drills and mood surveys. While her study did not show a large difference in practice times for a sleep-extension group over a control group, the sleep-extension group showed significantly improved mood during the study over the control group. Sophia received awards from the Dauphin County Medical Society, PSEA Retired Teachers Fund, and a Love award for outstanding presentation and communication.
Zehner’s project “Evaluating the Plant Growth Efficiency of Basil in Vertical Aeroponics vs. Horizontal Floating Raft Aquaponics” investigated the effectiveness of vertical towers over horizontal rafts in growing plant in aquaponic systems — systems that utilize fish to generate nitrogen-rich waste needed for plant growth. She designed and built an aquaponic system housing sixty tilapia, along with a bio filter needed to assist the plants in processing nitrogen. In Zehner’s initial study, she found that the vertical towers, while producing significantly shorter basil plants, produced basil with more leaves and significantly more dried biomass than did horizontal-raft-grown basil. Sadie received the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, a Love award for outstanding presentation and communication, and the CASEF Category prize for Life Science.
Zehner was interviewed in a second round of Grand Champion judging, and Sadie was named one of two Grand Champions of the CASEF Fair. Zehner will be one of about a dozen students from the six Pennsylvania ISEF affiliated fairs (Capital Area, Berks, Delaware Valley, Lancaster, York, and Pittsburgh) to attend the Regeneron ISEF 2022 international science fair to be held in Atlanta in May. Around 1,800 ninth-through-twelfth grade students from around the world whose projects were vetted by affiliated fairs will compete for prizes, awards, and scholarships with a value of nearly $5 million.
All three students will be submitting an extended essay regarding their projects and delivering a presentation for review by the College Board to fulfill the requirements of their AP Research course in pursuit of being awarded an AP Capstone Diploma, an achievement earned by 24 BHS students over the last three years.