Chosen for researching ocean acidity, outcomes
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - The future is promising for one Brevard County student, who will be traveling to Washington, D.C., this month to compete with some of the country's brightest young minds.
Ceili Masterson, a ninth-grader at Palm Bay High School, will embark on an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation's capital on Sept. 28 to compete in this year's Broadcom Master's Competition, a science, technology, engineering and math competition for middle school students, who win science fairs at the regional or state levels. The 30 finalists, selected from an initial round of 1,470 applicants, will be competing for a chance to win the top education award of $25,000.
Ceili will be presenting a project she started as an eighth-grade student at Stone Middle School in Melbourne: "The Effects of Reduced pH Levels on the Growth and Survival of the Calcareous Shelled Bivalve, Mercenaria mercenaria."
"In other words, the ocean is becoming more acidic," said Richard Regan, science and technology choice program director at Stone Middle School. "This increase in acidity causes problems for animals that produce calcium carbonate shells, or skeletons such as corals and mollusks, including clams and snails."
He said that a major concern related to ocean acidification is that at some point, corals will no longer be able to make their calcium carbonate skeletons, resulting in the collapse of coral reef ecosystems.
"Ceili investigated this problem by exposing hard clams to more acidic conditions and measured their growth and survival," Mr. Regan said. "She invested a huge amount of time and effort conducting her research on ocean acidification, and the result was a truly outstanding research study."
He said Stone Middle School has a strong research program that supports the success of its students, and research students perform well at science competitions at local, state and national levels.
Last year, Stone Middle School students won 12 of the 13 first-place awards at the regional science fair.
"Our program produces students who do extremely well competitively," Mr. Regan said. "But more importantly, our students are taught the skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond."