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The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

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The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

Cavalier Post

The Student News Site of The Woodlands College Park High School

Cavalier Post

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Nikita D’Souza and Grace Yuan are Packed for ISEF

Caroline Rodriguez

Nikita D’Souza and Grace Yuan, juniors from the Academy of Science and Technology at College Park placed first in the materials science category at the state science fair. For their project, the pair created a biodegradable food packaging using chitosan.

“Research created a sustainable food packaging system by exploring the versatile applications of chitosan, a biodegradable polymer derived from crustacean shells and fungal cell walls. The researchers used mushroom-derived chitosan with graphene oxide nanofiller and conducted five tests to analyze and compare the quality of this material: loss tangent/permittivity, biodegradability, mechanical properties, film thickness, and shelf life,” said Yuan.

To further the efficiency, they included a color-changing humidity sensor to detect risk of contamination and moisture levels in the packaging. The pair was first introduced to biopolymer chitosan and its applications with solving plastic pollution by Dr. Karim, a University of Houston professor. 

When asked about their favorite part of the experience, the Yuan said, “My favorite thing was being able to work in the lab at UH [University of Houston] with the graduate students and experimenting with all the cool tools they had to offer.”

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The pair plans to continue their work with biodegradable packaging and present their current findings at this May’s International Science and Engineering Fair.

“My favorite memory was being on the bus at TXSEF and waiting for the 1st place results. I didn’t think I would win, but as my friend was scrolling through the website, she saw the title of my project, and everyone started cheering,” said Yuan.

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Emily Hughes
Emily Hughes, Assistant Editor

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