0812 Disney Planet ChallengeThe Project AERO team included Ronnie Festok, Emeline Hankins, Sam Jones, Sami Refai, Adam Aldaher, Thomas Rooney, Ali Briggs, Guy Griffies, Evan Robinson, Kair Hakim, Davis Tyler- Dudley and Abigail Neumann. Not pictured are teachers Chris Gallas and Melinda Bray.
In the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, students at the Joseph S. Bruno Montessori Academy’s middle school were studying water chemistry, water testing and aquatic ecosystems in our environmental science class.
We tested water from our own pond and discovered how abnormal the chemical conditions in it were. This would help us to successfully carry out the AERO (Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Operation) Project to restore our school pond to a better state.
When Chris Gallas, our science teacher, learned about the Disney Planet Challenge, we decided that since we already had started an effort to restore our pond, we would enter that as our project. However, we also wanted to remove the area’s tick and mosquito problem.
We began by cleaning up trash and other pollutants around the pond area. We then took more water samples from the pond and noticed that our pH was high, our alkalinity level was low, our phosphate level was high, our nitrate level was high, our dissolved oxygen levels were low and our temperature was also a tad bit high.
All of these factors contributed to the main cause of our pond’s problems: the algae bloom. Because of the increase in nutrients, there was an increase in algae growth.
By eliminating some of the algae, we were able to free up oxygen and reduce the intensity of the algae bloom. Already we have observed turtles, fish and birds (including a great blue heron) moving into the pond.
Next, we decided to tackle the problem of our resident arthropod pests: the ticks and mosquitoes. We did research on how to best deal with our problems without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. With some research from Thomas Rooney and Adam Aldaher, our unofficial class bat researchers, we decided to use bats to eliminate the mosquitoes.
We submitted our virtual portfolio to the Disney Planet Challenge and won first place for the state of Alabama. This truly showed that all our hard work had paid off. However, we also learned many new things during the course of our project, and we all had lots of fun.
Davis Tyler-Dudley is in eighth grade at the Joseph S. Bruno Montessori Academy. He plays baseball and also competed in the 2011 First Lego League Robotics Competition.