Two Students Earn Awards at International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF)
Sophomore Max Freedman and freshman Jackson Damhorst from AFE (Alternative Family Education Program) have a winning record. First they won Best Overall Project at Santa Cruz County Science Fair, then they earned a First Place in Category at California State Science Fair and now they’ve won Fourth in Animal Sciences at ISEF for their work with honeybees. The teen’s project also earned “Special Recognition” from the Monsanto Corporation for Innovative Merit. In total they collected $2550 in prize money.
Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition with students from over 75 countries competing for a prize fund totaling $4 million. Millions of high school students worldwide compete through hundreds of affiliate fairs to be one of the 1,800 finalists selected for the culminating ISEF competition, which is held in the spring each year.
The teens looked at how honeybees responded to treatments used by beekeepers to prevent losses from Varroa mites—debilitating parasites that are linked to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). Bees play an indispensible role in global crop production and are responsible for pollinating $200 B annually worldwide.
In their study, the students collected bees from Freedman’s hives and trained them to recognize a scent. Then they treated them with 2 different mite controls and retested to see if the bees maintained their memory. They found the treated bees experienced memory losses that persisted up to 3 hours. The teen’s research showed clear differences between treatment groups and control groups. When bees are confused or experience memory loss, they will not be able to forage or pollinate successfully.
Damhorst and Freedman’s research could help beekeepers choose alternative treatments for their bees and may even lead to developing safer treatments to manage Varroa mites. “We’d like to share our work with other beekeepers to help them with their colonies” Damhorst explains.
Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair Website: http://science.santacruz.k12.ca.us
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