Editor: On March 23, I had the honor and privilege to judge the 36th Annual LCPS Regional Science and Engineering Fair for a special award from my church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun, UUCL. Unitarian Universalists do not have a creed, but embrace 7 Principles. The 7th Principle is “Respect for the Interdependent Web of Life of which we are a part.” Over 10 years ago, now deceased church member Ann Robinson started the UUCL Environmental Stewardship Award.
As an official category judge as well as judging for special awards, I have judged many science fairs. This year, I noticed significant changes in problems students chose to study. For one, the number of projects submitted in the Earth and Environmental Sciences category ballooned to 31 total which, according to the LCPS science supervisor, had the largest number of projects of all the 22 fair categories. Unlike past science fairs, nearly 30 percent (9 out of 31) of the E&ES category projects were related in some way to climate change. Here is a sampling of project titles: Observing the Effect of Carbon Dioxide on Stomatal Productivity; The Effect of Global Warming on Storms; Does Climate Change Lead to Increase Tsunami Size? In other categories, there were at least seven other projects related to Climate Change, such Algal Lipids as an alternative fuel source; Using GIS to Determine the Effectiveness of Retrofitting a Coal Energy Plant to Wind Energy; The Effect of Carbon Nanoparticles on Efficiency of Steam Generation for Solar Applications.
In one project about Wind Turbine Blade Design, the students states in his abstract: “In my study, I wanted to study a way to maximize the efficiency of wind turbines. I wanted to research this problem because at the rate we are using fossil fuels now, the planet will not be able to sustain life in the years to come. … I am excited to continue researching the topic as clean energy is critical in making sure that the planet remains habitable for as long as possible.”
Loudoun County students understand the gravity of climate change. They passionately seek to better understand it’s impact and identify solutions. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors must keep the wisdom of these young people in mind for each and every land-use decision they make and for each and every transportation decision they make. For the sake of these inspiring students and their future, the supervisors must reshape our county to naturally landscaped walk-able and bike-able communities connected by mass transit to each other and to the greater Washington Metropolitan region.
Natalie Pien, Leesburg