The Odessa Record -

Grant helps OHS science students


November 23, 2017

--Courtesy photo.

OHS science students explore personal projects: Pilot Weishaar, Nathan Carstensen, Maddie Scrupps, Destiny German, Josie Westmoreland, Tori Weishaar, Natosha Boss, Maddy Wagner, Megan Shafer, Justin Reninger, Kiegan Wehr, Noah Anderson, Gaven Elder and Ryan Moffet.

Last month, a gentlemen named Jerry Dyar from The Rural Alliance organization approached the Odessa High School Science Department and offered our laboratory the opportunity to be a part of a new program entitled STEM Gems. This program allows our nine students in the Advanced STEM Research Laboratory, as well as five students from our regular classroom laboratories, the freedom to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering or mathematics as they explore postsecondary programs that fit their aspirations and talents. The students selected for the STEM Gems program are Kiegan Wehr, Noah Anderson, Gaven Elder, Destiny German, Megan Shafer, Justin Reninger, Megan Shafer, Natosha Boss, Maddy Wagner, Josie Westmoreland, Ryan Moffet, Maddie Scrupps and Pilot Weishaar.

These students will visit three colleges and have one presentation travel day to Spokane Falls Community College, Spokane Community College and Eastern Washington University. The college visits bring students together to view STEM programs, interact with college faculty and industry representatives and engage in hands-on lab work or projects. Since each student has the entire school year to complete a project, the first college visitation is a time to share what each student is interested in pursuing and explore possible project ideas. The second and third college visitations are opportunities to share how their projects are progressing, and the final visitation will be a presentation by each student in some format such as on poster board or via PowerPoint. The first college visit to Spokane Falls Community College occurred November 1, where the students toured the research laboratories, typed their own blood for Rh factors, explored the cadaver laboratory and viewed the indoor planetarium.

The STEM Gems grant covers most costs the students may encounter during their research, such as money for supplies, travel costs, cost to attend the college and final presentation day visitations, lunches for the students on those travel days, and the cost of Odessa science teacher Jeff Wehr's classroom substitute teacher on those days. All of these students will share their findings with the Odessa community before the end of this school year. The STEM Gems are currently working on the following STEM projects:

Kiegan Wehr

Laser Stimulated Algae Growth for Increased

Biofuel Production

The use of algae as a form of biofuel is becoming more and more common every year. New methods are being researched to gain a higher quality and quantity of biofuel. My research is to collect that fuel from local blue-green algae while it is stimulated with refracted laser light. The added laser light will stimulate the algae's photosynthetic output, thus creating more ethanol for biofuel while the spent algae can further create other biofuels.

Noah Anderson

Analyzing Dynamic

Wrinkling for Soft Lithography, Flexible Electronics or Biomedical Engineering

I am researching whether there is a way to mathematically predict the amount of wrinkles within a specific material, counting the wrinkles from a static state after compressing Kapton tape on various silicone surfaces. Understanding how these wrinkles form will enhance flexible electronics, soft lithography and have numerous applications for biomedical techniques.

Destiny German

Purification of Water

through Low-Voltage

Electrolysis Utilizing

Novel Electrodes

I plan to use leftover carbon from a recycled copy machine toner cartridge to create graphene. The graphene will be treated and formed into an electrical lead to use as a conductor for water purification. The increased conductivity of my graphene lead should outperform current purification methods by over 10% and can be engineered in countries needing cleaner water.

Justin Reninger

18O/16O Paleotemperature Measurements on Migration Patterns of Maiasaura

In this research I will be testing Maiasaura teeth collected from Montana to determine the ratio of oxygen 18 and oxygen 16 isotope levels. The difference in oxygen isotope levels could indicate fluctuating elevation climates revealing where Maiasaura, and possibly other dinosaurs, migrated.

Megan Shafer

In this project, Mammoth sunflowers will be grown and tested to see how they grow normally and in radioactive soil. The soil will then be tested to see if the radiation level decreased. This research may indicate that sunflowers could be used to decrease radiation levels following events such as Hiroshima, Fukishima and Chernobyl.

Tori Weishaar

Penicillin Suspension in Semisolids for 3D


I am attempting to engineer a 3D printer capable of printing biomaterials and live cells suspended in a semisolid, such as penicillin. The penicillin will be suspended in a dissolvable solution of 4.8% white beeswax and sesame oil. The 3D printer will be engineered from discarded inkjet printers, fitted with Arduino electronics, and programmed to print biomaterials.

Natosha Boss

Innate Immune Response to Pathogenic Bacterial

Infections in Drosophila melanogaster

I am adding pond water heavily saturated with algae to separate communities of fruit flies. The fruit flies have specific genetic markers which I received from WSU-Pullman. The survivability of the different strains of fruit flies will be explored for specific innate immune responses per fly type. These innate immune responses may help humans by predictively modeling our own immune responses.

Maddy Wagner

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Approaches to Cancer

I am collaborating with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where I will be culturing cells, treating them with chemotherapy and carefully observe their mortality rates. I will then take similar cells and insert resistance gene therapies, where they will culture. I will then again treat them with chemotherapy and observe their mortality rates which, if my hypothesis is correct, will be much lower.

Josie Westmoreland

Non-Human Stem Cell Lines for Regeneration of Human Cell Lines

My goal is to raise Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and breed them. Once this is completed, I will then harvest the embryo from the pregnant zebrafish and harvest embryo stem cells (ESCs). I will culture them and cultivate them so that they will be used for therapeutic stem cell treatments.

Gaven Elder

I am currently in a computer programming course and really enjoying various types of coding. I am planning to engineer and code a robot that will be used for various tasks where a human could either not safely enter the environment or that humans could not physically enter the environment.

Ryan Moffet

My project will be centered on archeology. I will be researching the Native American cave paintings near Odessa to possibly determine what the people were like, how they lived and from where they may have come.

Pilot Weishaar

I plan to grow and harvest grapes grown outdoors with natural climate and temperatures and compare them to grapes grown in a greenhouse with carefully controlled climate and temperatures. I am very interested in a career in viticulture.

Maddie Scrupps

I have an unexplained allergy to dairy products which drives my curiosity for science. My goal is to isolate proteins that are in dairy products and categorize as many as I possibly can. If there are more than one, two or a few specific proteins that are isolated, I will try to develop a test strip that could be inserted into any dairy product which would accurately indicate whether that dairy product might induce a person's allergies, and allow them to avoid it.

Nathan Carstensen

I am very interested in becoming a surgeon and will be job shadowing many different types of surgeons in Washington state. After I visited Spokane Falls Community College and explored the cadaver laboratory, I realized becoming a surgeon would be very exciting. I will present my experiences on the types of surgeons and what type interests me after my visitations.


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