March 19, 2013
The Piedmont Regional Science Fair was held on Wednesday, March 13. More than 350 middle and high school students showed off their projects in hopes of getting first place and the chance to more on to states and then international competitions.
The projects at the Piedmont Regional Science Fair aren't your average science fair projects.
Carol Stutzman, a chemistry teacher at Western Albemarle High School, described a few of the projects, "[One was] differentiating different stem cells with lasers, which is really cool. Another one was, using staining and denaturing proteins. The competition was tougher this year than ever before."
Of the fifteen first place prizes in the senior division, eleven were awarded to Albemarle County high school students. One of the first place winners is Western Albemarle sophomore, Seamore Zhu. He came up with the idea for his project by trying to help his friends.
Zhu said, "One in particular has allergy-induced asthma. I was thinking maybe I could create a device that could diagnose for asthma and pulmonary diseases so that he might be able to figure out really quickly if he needed to use an inhaler or not."
By using a 3D printer, Zhu designed and invented a medical device that measures the volume of air that you breathe. What makes it different than the machines used by doctors now, is that you breathe into it through your nose and not your mouth.
Zhu demonstrated, " It's a nasal spirometer so you use your nose like this. What it does, is there are four sensors inside the device and thee four sensors will basically bring in all the data."
The data is then sent to a computer through Blue Tooth technology. Zhu then interprets the data to find the qualities of the air to diagnose lung diseases like asthma.
"It would be very useful for asthma patients who want to be able to self diagnose themselves without having to go to the hospital," said Zhu.
He hopes that one day his innovative technology will be available to everyone who needs it.
Zhu said, "It fits in with modern technology because it can connect using blue tooth with a computer. For future works I'd like for it to connect to mobile devices. "
Zhu was the only winner from Western Albemarle High School. There were ten first place winners from Albemarle High School. All fifteen first place winners are eligible to compete in the state science fair at the beginning of March. The winners of sates then progress to the international competition.