Michael Pracht wins West Virginia Stockholm Junior Water Prize award
Paw Paw High School student Michael Pracht won the West Virginia state competition for the U.S. 2012 Stockholm Junior Water Prize on May 22.
He was awarded the honor from the West Virginia Water Environment Association at an annual conference banquet in Parkersburg. His project was “The Effect of Human Hair and Oil-Only Polypropylene Sorbent Material on Remediation of Fresh Water Surface Oil Spills.” His science teacher is Carol Coryea.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is considered the world’s most prestigious youth award for a water-related science project. High school students address current and future water issues with their research and compete at regional, state, national and international levels.
Pracht will be an 11th grader in the fall. He is 15 years old and is one of the youngest to compete for the award.
Pracht also competed in the U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize national competition in Boston from June 14 to June 16 against state winners from across the country. The West Virginia Water Environment Association sponsored Pracht’s and Coryea’s attendance at the event.
A student from New York was named the national winner. They will compete in the international competition in Stockholm in August.
According to a Water Environment Federation press release, the purpose of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize program “is to increase students’ interest in water-related issues and research and to raise awareness about global water challenges.”
The competition is open to topics that include the improvement of water quality, water resources management, water protection and water and wastewater treatment.
Pracht won first place at the school’s science fair, second place in the county, third place at regional, second place at the state science fair and third place at the West Virginia Junior Science and Humanities Symposium with his project, said his mother Becky Pracht.
Pracht also took his project to the National Science Symposium in Bethesda. He was nominated at the state science fair for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and won after submitting his research paper.
Entries are judged on relevance, creativity, methodology, subject knowledge, practical skills and report and presentation. The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition weighs more heavily on the quality of the scientific research paper than the poster presentation, she said.
Her son got the idea for his science project after he heard about a fuel spill in a trout stream that occurred when construction equipment overturned in the stream, she said. He is an avid fisherman and enjoys fly-fishing.
Pracht decided to do a comparison of oil only polypropylene sorbent material and human hair since human hair can get very oily when it isn’t washed, Becky Pracht said.
Her son represented the state well and enjoyed the conference in Boston and its activities, she said.
Students toured the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has implemented solar power, wind turbines, hydroelectric generation and methane gas initiatives. They also attended an island New England clam bake.