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Shawnee Mission Students Excel at Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Shawnee Mission Students Excel at Junior Science and Humanities Symposium
Shawnee Mission School District

Shawnee Mission Biotechnology students traveled to Oklahoma in early March to present their research at the 17th annual Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (KNO-JSHS).

Marianna Ward, SM South senior, was named a finalist at the regional symposium. She presented research on the ability of the black soldier fly larvae to degrade Styrofoam.  Ward shared after finding evidence the larvae could eat and degrade the Styrofoam, “I then cultured the bacteria found in the gut microbiome of the larvae before and after they ate Styrofoam and compared the difference between the bacteria using a technique called gram staining. Before the larvae ate plastic, the bacteria was gram negative and afterwards it was gram positive. This means that eating plastic completely alters the makeup of the Black soldier Fly microbiome.”  

Students were given 12 minutes to present their research and five minutes for questions from the judges.  “That was a lot of time and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but hopefully I am a better presenter because of it,” Ward noted.  This research also earned Ward a gold ribbon at the Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair.

KNO-JSHS is part of an established national program of the Academy of Applied Science and the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. The primary objective of the JSHS symposium is to search out talented youth to encourage the development of their scientific interests and abilities. While thousands of students enter their research in regional symposiums, only 230 high school students qualify for the national symposium.

In addition, the following Shawnee Mission Biotechnology students also presented at the symposium, Elizabeth Falkner, Talle Hawes, Scott Valentine, Morghan Golloher and Kate Tickle.