Team:Gaston Day School
About Gaston Day School
Gaston Day School is a non-sectarian, college preparatory school for grades Pre-K through 12 where nearly 100% of graduating students attend a four-year college. Located in Gastonia, North Carolina and founded 1967, the school provides education to students from Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln, Cleveland, and York counties, in addition to international exchange students from various countries such as China and Germany. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Gaston Day is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Independent Schools, and the North Carolina Association of Independent schools and approved by the North Carolina Department of Education.
Prompted by reports of the adverse health effects of heavy metal contamination in water, our 2012 iGEM team began working on the first of several heavy metal detectors. We wanted to help both local farmers and farmers in other countries, especially third-world ones, who have found their crops tainted by heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, and lead. In 2013, we read reports showing that areas surrounding Duke Energy's Buck Steam Station are affected by coal ash containing cadmium, in a region fairly close to home for our team. We decided to focus primarily on our cadmium detector, especially after learning that water affected by the cadmium containing coal ash becomes hazardous and can potentially cause health issues ranging from kidney damage to death. Our detector creates green fluorescence while in the presence of cadmium. After building the first version of our detector, we worked to increase its sensitivity, allowing it to respond to much lower levels of cadmium, at an amount where the knowledge could be useful and not redundant due to the deaths already caused by the cadmium. Last year, we added the 2007 Cambridge team's sensitivity tuners to the detector. After seeing indications of a peak at lower levels of cadmium than we had previously, we began to use test points that were closer together and discovered a peak of fluorescence. This year we built and tested an alternate version of our previous detector. The new detector uses a phi-delta activator instead of an Ogr activator, and we discovered promising differences between the detector and the control. According to the 2007 Cambridge team's website, they saw differing results for the efficacy of the phi-delta activator versus the Ogr activator, especially when tested with or without an induction system. We decided to test the phi-delta activator as well as the Ogr activator to see if in our different environment we had improved results with one of them.