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North student headed for national water research competition

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI Nashua High School North senior and Biotechnology II student Kavya Phadke, bottom row middle, recently earned the New Hampshire Stockholm Junior Water Prize and will get a chance to present her research on chemicals in water bottles next week at Ohio State University for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize national competition.

NASHUA – Nashua High School North senior and Biotechnology II student Kavya Phadke recently earned the New Hampshire Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

Phadke will get a chance to present her research on chemicals in water bottles next week at Ohio State University for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize national competition.

The prize is one of the most prestigious awards a high school student can earn for a water research project.

The national competition, which began in 1997, will take place from June 13-16 at Ohio State

University. The international competition will take place in Stockholm, Sweden during World Water Week in August.

More than 30 countries will be sending national winners to this competition.

The events are open to public, private, or independent high school students who are at least 15 years old.

Regional Award certificates were distributed first. Students who received these were encouraged to enter their paper onlines for the state competition. From there, one student per state was chosen by a panel of judges.

The national judge’s panel will consist of 15-20 “experts” in different academic fields. Each student’s project is judged in six categories of criteria: relevance, creativity, methodology, subject knowledge, practical skills and report/presentation.

The prize state winners will be presenting their research on a number of different water topics, which range from water quality analysis to methods for tracing arsenic in water to usage of aeroponic systems.

Phadke will present her research project, “Is Your Water Safe?”

Phadke got an idea after being told for years by her parents that it wasn’t safe to leave plastic water bottles out in the sun for a long time.

She wanted to see how true this was and began researching. She looked into polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, which most commonly used in fibers for clothing, and containers for liquids and foods, along with water bottles.

She said that while PET plastic is supposed to be a safer option, she found that PET water bottles can leach antimony, a chemical that is harmful to humans.

Once Phadke determined her procedure, she said it took her two weeks to compile data. She created two environments to keep water bottles in and used both plastic and stainless steel water bottles.

Her two types of environments that she used for her project were room temperature and the average temperature of a hot car, 110 degrees. Phadke created the hot environment of a car by putting the water bottles in an incubator.

She said her data was not conclusive because she did this in a school laboratory, as opposed to a biotech lab where she could get more details on her findings. She wasn’t able to detect exactly how much antimony was in the water, but did conclude that there could be more antimony than what the Food and Drug Administration regulates.

Phadke said she would hope to continue her research if she could in a biotechnology facility. She will be heading to Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall to study bioinformatics.