Hannah Thomas ’17 Presents “Water Quality Grader” at Junior Science Symposium

Posted: March 17, 2017

Hannah Thomas ’17 presented her paper, "Water Quality Grader: Know Your Numbers," at the Junior Science and Humanities Regional Symposium at Georgetown University. Eight additional students attended the Symposium.

“The Symposium made me think a lot about what I want to study in college and how to make the most of the opportunities that will become available to me,” says Hannah. “Also, listening to the presentations from other students and seeing the depth and variety of research conducted at other high schools was inspiring.”

During the March 2017 Symposium, participants visited Georgetown laboratories, listened to keynote speakers, learned about research projects conducted by their peers, and attended a seminar led by a professional scientist.

Hannah’s research into water quality was inspired by her family's farm, Glenowen. She grew up working this land, a place 60 miles outside of D.C. where her family raises Angus Cattle. Four years ago, with the help of the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), the farm installed fences and stream buffers as part of its efforts to comply with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

“However, because NRCS does not require testing to ensure the efficacy of these program, I wanted to see the effect of these programs on water quality from a scientific viewpoint to ensure my family was really making a difference,” says Hannah.

Her app, “Water Quality Grader,” compiles the water parameters she measured in her experiment into a composite number on a 100-point scale, similar to a credit score. The app also includes video instructions on how to complete the tests using the LaMotte kit and track their progress.

Based on her research, Hannah says NRCS's programs are extremely effective in improving water quality. “I also gained valuable technical skills, learning a lot about the research process and the basics of coding,” she says. “On a personal level, I learned how to be self motivated, working on my project in my limited free time my junior year, and how to take the initiative to find people and programs that could help me accomplish my goals.”

Hannah has also presented her research at the Archdiocese of Washington’s Academic Symposium, 2016 D.C. STEM Fair, Washington Geological Society Meeting, and the EPA Animal Agricultural Discussion Group. Hannah’s research and app were also featured in an issue of "The Progressive Farmer" magazine.

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