When it comes to student-focused STEM projects at Taos Middle/High School, ideas seem limitless.
It all started with information shared from a group of Taos students participating in a STEM demonstration during eCYBERMISSION‘s 2013-2014 National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE). The demonstration mentioned the use of Chitosan as a filtration. The students shared this information back in New Mexico with soon-to-be team Crabyotics—Andrea-Chin Lopez, Julia Johnson, Anthony Archuleta, and James Valerio.
This shared-information soon became a bio-filter system community project, which competed in local science fairs, competitions, and of course eCYBERMISSION, which resulted in the team’s STEM-In-Action Grant.
During the 2013-2014 eCYBERMISSION competition, Team Advisor (TA) Laura Tenorio and her team “Crabyotics,” located in New Mexico, developed a bio-filter system that successfully removes antibiotic drugs from drinking water, thus helping to stem the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
“To this day, if you ask any of them, they still don’t believe it really happened,” said Team Advisor Laura Tenorio. “They are convinced that it was just a dream.”
Three Steps to Turn Your Idea into Reality
Taos is considered a rural area with access to limited resources for major scientific efforts. But at the Middle School’s science lab, commonly referred to as the “The Tyger Lab,” Anthony and Andrea came together with their fellow 9th grade team members James and Julia to research all that was needed to produce Chitosan and then produce a filter.
- In July of 2013, team Crabyotics began to work on their IDEA of making a filter against antibiotics.
- It was then that they DETERMINED that not only could it chemically work in theory, but that this filtration method could also be cost effective.
- This was when they began to think of a business plan, which the group CREATED after their research revealed their filter had potential for a patent.
“eCYBERMISSION completely changed the entire focus of the project, along with the STEM-In-Action Grant,” said Andrea… “Thanks to the grant and our Team Advisor, the project and our futures were invested and encouraged.”
Andrea and TA Laura Tenorio worked together to smooth out the business plan the team started creating. The teams’ main goal was to turn an idea into reality and incorporate into the community.
Of the original STEM-In-Action Grant proposal, the only part that has not been implemented is the Middle School and Community implementation. Actions are currently underway to determine a mass identification of water contaminants. The patent application is ongoing and being modified and FDA and EPA approval of the filter use will not go into action until further testing has been completed.
Managing the STEM-In-Action Grant: Anthony, James, and Julia have gone in separate directions from the project, while Andrea has maintained work on the grant. Andrea recruited two eCYBERMISSION Alumni—Arasely Rodriguez (The Wyrmies- 2013 NJ&EE) and Will Song (1st Place State, 2015)—to continue year three of the business plan and experimentation. Currently:
- Andrea, Arasely, and Will are working on the final phase of Crabyotics, named “Crabsorption,” which will focus on laboratory honed chitosan as an absorption media for pharmaceuticals from water sources and from the human body.
- Dual patent are in the works, both with Crabyotics original purpose, and with Crabsorption.
- Andrea and Mentor/TA Laura Tenorio have continued to gather more sponsors to support the implementation of the idea. (i.e. attract interest of ISEF, enter the Science Talent Search, and plans to compete in BioGenius and AEOP’s Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS).
New/Upcoming Tests: They tested a wide variety of antibiotics against chitosan cooked for varying times, and focused on a filter design that could resist water pressures with potential use in a universal setting.
In the Community: Not only does Andrea assist with Taos Middle/High School teams competing in eCYBERMISSION, she encourages students with little interest or knowledge in STEM to join eCYBERMISSION. Her experiences are then shared with younger age groups in the community.