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Habitat Investigations Program

ABL Staff Mentor Alaska High School Students

In March 2004, ABL staff participated as judges, mentors, and members of the organizing committee for the 2004 Southeast Alaska Regional Science Fair in Juneau. The science fair promotes project-based learning for grades 9 through 12 and brings together high school science students from throughout Southeast Alaska to compete for scholarships and cash prizes. Each of the 98 students was required to find a local scientist to act as mentor for the project. The mentors guide students in design, execution, statistical analysis, and presentation of projects.

Ten ABL staff mentored a total of 16 projects, and an additional 18 staff judged the entries. In addition, three staff members served on the organizing committee for the fair. The top five projects (four mentored by ABL scientists) advanced to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The Intel Fair is the world’s largest pre-college science competition and provides an opportunity for the world’s best young scientists to showcase cutting-edge science projects. Every year, 1,200 students selected from 500 regional science fairs held in 40 countries compete for $3 million in scholarships, tuition grants, computers, cash prizes, and a trip to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremony. In 2002, an ABL-mentored project won first place in Environmental Sciences at the International Fair for a project examining the use of physiological responses in mussels for assessing sewage pollution.

Another ABL outreach activity in Alaska is providing scientific advice to oceanography students in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. Since 1999, a team from Juneau has won the Alaska Ocean Sciences competition every year they have competed. This competition requires students to investigate a specific topic in oceanography and then compete in quizzes. This year’s topic was the effects of contaminants in Alaska’s marine ecosystem. The winning team worked with Scott Johnson and Adam Moles of ABL on disposal of mine tailings in the marine environment. A second Juneau team worked with Ron Heintz of ABL on persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic.

By Bonita Nelson

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