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11 students honored with national science awards
bwells

Wilbraham & Monson Academy continued to show its skill in the field of science as three groups from Mrs. Marissa Axtell's STEM 9 Physics classes won awards in the 2017 Toshiba ExploraVision competition.

The national contest recognized the top 10 percent of its applicants with honorable mention awards. Fewer than 50 schools in the country had students in ninth grade classes win awards.

"All of the STEM 9 kids did a great job working on the project," Mrs. Axtell said. "The students who worked on these particular projects put in a lot of time outside of class, which helped bring them to honorable mention status.

"Only the top 10 percent of the thousands of projects that are turned in from the U.S. and Canada are recognized with an honorable mention, so it's definitely a great achievement to earn that honor."

This was the third time in as many years students from WMA have received awards in the ExploraVision contest.

The following students, all in the Class of 2020, won awards for their ingenious innovations:

  • Fusionerator - Joshua Besse, Hao "Harrison" Pan, Yanxi "Scarlet" Lu, Sijian "Raymond" Tao
  • More Convenience & Comforts: The Gas Form Medicine – Tianqi "Wernich" Li, Muwei "Katherine" Xu, Yawen "Zoey" Guan, Ellen Oudkerk-Sodia
  • Explore the Unknown Interstellar Space: The PELLET - Lourdes Frempong, Jingting "Gina" Xie, Yikai "Joe" Zhou

For the contest, students selected a current technology to create an invention that will still be useful in 20 years.

The eco-friendly fusionerator will produce electricity and heat to homes. By fusing two materials, tritium and deuterium, a large amount of energy will be created. After water boils to vapor, it will travel through a steam turbine, which produces more energy. After the water cools, it's reusable.

"We wanted to find a way to bring power and heat in a less expensive way to Third World countries, and to maybe help with pollution, which is another benefit," Josh explained. "I think it came out pretty well. It achieves both goals we're looking for, so overall it's a success."

"We were really excited to be honored. We put a lot of hard work into it and spent a lot of hours researching and creating and designing the machine. It was awesome to be recognized."

The actual device for "More Convenience & Comforts: The Gas Form Medicine" didn't have a specific name. Nonetheless, this invention helps a situation everyone has struggled with at some point. By using vaporization and sublimation, liquid and solid medicines can be turned into gas forms.

"This machine can lower the melting point of the medicine so it can transform faster to the gas medicine," Katherine described.

"It's hard for some people to take medicine. If it's in a gas form, it's easier for them to take. It can also lower the side effects of the medicine and help people absorb the medicine better."

Using nuclear power, the PELLET is an engine that would propel a rocket into space for safer and more efficient explorative space travel. Like most scientists, this group saw failure before success.

"It was a tough process," said Gina, who got the idea from reading science fiction books. "We had another idea but that idea failed so we rewrote it. Other groups had gotten much farther in the process. Having to rewrite it was tough. We argued about ideas. When we finished, we thought 'we finally made it.'

"I was surprised and couldn't believe we won an award. I thought Mrs. Axtell was joking. Then Lourdes checked on the ExploraVision website and we saw we were on the list. We were really surprised."

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