Isabella O’Brien from St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School has been selected by Youth Science Canada to be the Team Canada delegate at the Broadcom MASTERS International to be held in May 2015 in Pittsburgh. One middle school science fair project from each of 13 countries is selected to participate in this program based on excellence in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and leadership potential.
Delegates win an all-expense paid trip to participate in the Broadcom MASTERS International program. In addition they are official observers at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest high school science fair competition in the world, which is happening in Pittsburgh at the same time.
Isabella will be presenting her project “Trouble in Paradise: Can shell recycling buffer the effects of Ocean Acidification?” The project responds to the serious problem of high CO2 levels reducing pH levels in the ocean, which threatens the viability of corals and shelled sea life. Isabella wondered if waste from the seafood industry such as mussel, oyster and clam shells could be recycled back into the ocean to boost pH levels and reduce the deterioration in shell mass and coral decay. Her experiments on mollusk shells demonstrated that using recycled shell waste in powdered form did boost pH levels and also decreased the rate of shell degradation, thus mitigating the effects of ocean acidification.
In 2014, Isabella presented her project at the St. Augustine science fair, then the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board fair and finally the Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) where she was selected to represent BASEF, along with 15 other students at the Canada Wide Science Fair. She won a gold medal and the Junior Environmental challenge award at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in May 2014.