In her three trips to the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair, Leah Hefty found the state level of competition challenging.
Then this year, she qualified for the first time to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. It made the state competition seem tame.
“If I get the opportunity to go back … and even if I don’t, I will make sure my project is up to the levels of expertise I saw” at the international fair, Hefty said this week.
At the international fair last month in Pittsburgh, Hefty received a second-place special award from the American Society of Horticulture — one of six special awards in her category with 70 entries.
Hefty, 17, of Auburn will enter her senior year at DeKalb High School later this summer.
Hefty’s winning project, “Solving World Hunger — One Family at a Time,” demonstrated how to grow green beans without a garden — using 40-pound bags of soil purchased at a local store. With an investment for $1.35 for seeds, fertilizer and soil, she grew beans worth approximately $2.37 at a market.
Hefty took encouragement from comments by an international fair judge from New Mexico.
“She told me she was going to take (Hefty’s) project back home and do that for herself. She also told me to send a letter to Michelle Obama,” because the nation’s first lady promotes healthy food, Hefty said.
But more than the competition and her award, Hefty enjoyed meeting her 1,700 fellow exhibitors from all over the globe.
“It was an amazing opportunity,” she said. “I’m still in contact with people from Costa Rica and Iraq.”
She added, “All of the projects there were incredible. … I swear I met somebody there who is going to solve cancer someday.”
In her bid to earn a return trip to the international fair, Hefty is planning to continue her work of growing plants in bags of soil. She intends to switch from beans to zucchini.
For next year, she aims to seek a sustainable — nonchemical — solution to insects and diseases that attack zucchini and other squash-like, vining plants.
Beyond the 2016 science fair competition, Hefty’s plans for next year include enrolling at Purdue University after high school graduation.
“I want to be an ag teacher,” she said. “I want to work in the classroom.”
Article from The Star
Written by Dave Kurtz