Science Project Takes Senior to International Fair

Science Project Takes Senior to International Fair
Posted on 06/18/2019
Science Project Takes Senior to International Fair

Josh Roy’s science fair project sounds complex only because it is.

Titled “Effect of Photodegradation on Dihydroxynaphthalene for Decomposition of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons,” the project by Nacogdoches High School senior and valedictorian of the Class of 2019 defines a process of allowing sunlight to remove oil-like substances from water by breaking down the compounds.

The project demonstrated how attaching a substance to the hydrocarbon, such as used motor oil, would speed up the process of converting compound into its most basic forms, water and carbon dioxide.

The project dominated the East Texas Regional Science Fair in March and propelled Roy to the Texas Science and Engineering Fair as well as an international competition held earlier this month in Phoenix.

Roy’s project covered a large number and wide scope of subjects, winning Best Overall and securing advancement to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair that took place earlier this month in Phoenix, Ariz.

“It touched on a number of subjects and sciences, which is the reason it earned so many awards,” said Linda Autrey, NISD’s Director of Advanced Academics.

At the East Texas Science Fair, Roy’s project was honored by the U.S. Metric Association for best use of the International System of Units, and the American Chemistry Association awarded Roy with the Outstanding Chemistry Project award, which came with a cash prize. He was awarded another cash prize from Suddenlink for Outstanding Research in Energy.

NHS physics teacher Jason Ray said Roy’s project at the regional science fair stood out from a number of others that also addressed pollution in water. For one thing, the project not only illustrated a problem, it suggested a solution.

“When you get to the regional level, there are lots of water-quality projects,” said Ray. “At regional, it’s not unique anymore if you do water quality, and his project stood out beyond others.”

At the international fair, Roy was a bit concerned about how he and his project might compare to others from the more than 1,800 participants that attended. Turns out, he didn’t need to worry.

“It was an amazing trip,” said Roy, who will attend the University of California-Berkeley in August. “I was surprised to fit in very well when I got there. They were plenty of deserving projects there.”

The fair was truly “international,” Roy said. Eighty different countries were represented among the 1,842 participants and 1,414 projects on display inside the Phoenix Convention Center.

After being introduced to the idea of a project last spring, Roy said work began in earnest during the fall semester. Along the way, he consulted with Stephen F. Austin State University professor Matibur Zamadar.

Still, Roy went to the regional science fair in Kilgore not expecting a whole lot.

Instead, the project swept to victory, and he and several other STEM Academy students at NHS earned berths in the Texas Science and Engineering Fair held in Bryan-College Station at the end of March. Seven NHS projects qualified for the state competition.

When Roy heads west to Berkeley in August, he will study computer science. Although he visited other schools in the Northeast and on the east coast, when Roy arrives in California will be the first time he sees the campus.

“I’m really excited to be right next to San Francisco,” he said.

His goal is to work with artificial intelligence, when computers and machines can be programmed to display functions such as problem solving and learning. Cal-Berkeley is considered one of the top four schools in the nation for computer science, he said.

“That’s my interest right now,” Roy said. “There’s a world of possibilities with artificial intelligence.”

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