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August 28th, 2009

Update on new turf and grass research results

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

First, I want to thank all the Daphnia who gave their lives to prove my hypothesis! Daphnia are a small shrimp-like creature, about the size of a grain of salt. Scientists use them to do experiments because they reproduce quickly, so you always have alot on hand. And they are very sensitive to environmental pollutants, so they tell us if other water creatures might be affected by the same substances.
For my animal experiment I took the Daphnia and put 10 of them each  in four bowls.  In one bowl I put grass water; in another I put synthetic turf runoff water; in another I put spring water and in another I put tap water. All of the Daphnia in the tap water died within 24 hours. (I checked them about every four hours.) All of the Daphnia in the spring water and the grass water were alive after 24 hours. But in the turf runoff, the first time I ran this experiment 6 of the 10 Daphnia died within 24 hours. I ran the experiment again with just 10 Daphnia in grass water and 10 in turf runoff water, and again, all the grass water Daphnia survived. But 8 of the 10 Daphnia in the turf water died. This tells me that there is something in the turf that kills most of the Daphnia.
Our nutrient analysis from Dr. Adina Paytan’s lab show that there is a lot of zinc and some other heavy metals that the Daphnia may not appreciate, but we don’t know for sure what killed them.


July 18th, 2009

Plant Study Results!

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

Tonight is a big night for me — I’m getting ready to leave for soccer camp with many of the women soccer players from the U.S. World Cup team – Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett — and I also harvested the carrots I grew from seed for the last five months. I started three groups of carrot seeds, one in water from a turf field, one in water from a grass field, and one with tap (plain) water from our sink.

In the beginning, I was surprised that the seeds grown with water runoff from synthetic turf grew fastest, and their greens grew tallest. I thought their carrots would be the biggest! The carrots grown with grass water struggled a little at first, and grew thinner greens on top. But they survived. The carrots grown with tap water grew more over the last couple weeks. I took the carrots out of their pots tonight, and we weighed and measured them.

Measuring Size of Tap Water Carrot

Measuring Size of Tap Water Carrot

Measuring Size of Turf Water Carrots

Measuring Size of Turf Water Carrots

Claire bagging the carrots to keep for Dr. Paytan's lab

Claire bagging the carrots to keep for Dr. Paytan's lab

The results: Turf water produced five carrots! But they were all quite thin, and measured 2″, 1″, 1.5″ and just under 1″. All together they weighed 1/8 oz. The greens were 9.5″ and 11″ tall. The seeds grown from grass water turned into — one forked carrot! It measured 1.5″ and weighed 1/8 oz. The surprise to me was that the carrot grown from plain tap water was the biggest. It was 2″ long, and weighed 1/4 oz., which is twice as big as the grass carrot and twice as much as the five skinny turf carrots! So tap water wins. When I see Professor Adina, I think she will help analyze the soil that the carrots grew in, and also the plants that grew from each of the different waters.
It is very interesting that these carrots were the start of my study – of what do the different types of water do to living things, how will growing the same seeds in three different waters result in different changes in the plants.  I can see big differences between the three groups of carrots: the turf carrots had strong greens but wimpy carrots. The grass had a bigger carrot, but just one, and it struggled. The tap water carrot grew the biggest of all three. It will be interesting to see when Dr. Adina is able to use the instruments in her lab to see how the soils may have absorbed different chemicals from being watered with the different waters, and maybe the carrots will contain different chemicals.
Being a scientist is like being a detective!


June 21st, 2009

The City of San Francisco Says My Kids’ Science Challenge Rocks!

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

I’m lucky to live in San Francisco, which is a great city that is surrounded by water on three sides. So people here really care about the environment. And they’re excited that I’m using science to find the real truth about what chemicals and bacteria can be found in both grass and synthetic turf soccer fields. Here are some pictures of the awards I received from our Mayor Gavin Newsom, and our Supervisor Bevan Dufty for winning the Kids Science Challenge, and for using science to find out answers that will help our city government to plan what is best for the environment in our city.090331-mayor-newsome-honor-certificate090505-boardofsupes-honor-certificate


June 21st, 2009

Plant Experiments are in Final Phase

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

Carrots - turf, tap and grass water-fedl

Carrots - turf, tap and grass water-fed

In February I started growing carrots from seed in peet that was soaked in synthetic turf runoff water, grass soccer field runoff water, and plain old San Francisco tap water. I wanted to see which plants would grow best from which water. Here it is late June already! I have just finished the third grade. And my plants are finishing their growing cycle. The results so far are: synthetic turf carrots – 9 inches tall. Tap water carrots – 6 inches tall. Grass water carrots – 5 inches tall.  Dr. Adina Paytan at UC Santa Cruz will examine the plants, their carrots, and the soil they have grown in. They have been watered every day with water from their type of field (or tap water.)  I was surprised that the synthetic turf carrots have grown faster and taller than the rest.


June 21st, 2009

My Science Project With Dr. Adina Paytan is On KGO-TV

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

It was very exciting to see me on TV explaining my project. You can see the video from KGO TV by clicking here.

I’m looking forward to accomplishing this big study.  My water samples are at Dr. Adina’s lab in UC Santa Cruz, and we are starting to get preliminary results from the first 10 samples.  I’ll let you know as soon as we get all of the results back.kgofilmsclaire-forweb


May 25th, 2009

More Literature Search, and an Interesting Reply

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

Every couple of days I sit with my mom at the computer and we try to think of different words to search to find as many studies and articles as possible on artificial turf and grass fields. We have found a lot!
But it’s interesting to me that no one has studied this question the way I am, maybe because I am a soccer player. The way I see and use a field is different from the way a lot of grown ups think about fields.

Today I found an article in a U.S. Army newspaper about an artificial turf field in Korea on an American Army base that was closed because it had too much lead, a heavy metal that is dangerous for children and grown ups. I am trying to reach the people at the military base to see if they can tell me more about their field and why it was closed.

I found another expert in Connecticut who has tested some synthetic turf fields and testified in front of a city commission there. He wrote to me that he is going to send me his description of how he designed his study. I thought it was interesting that he captured the runoff water he tested from drain pipes that carry the water off the field. That would be easy! When I take a water sample, I go onto the field, in parts of the field where I have played, and I use a big syringe from Dr. Adina’s lab to suck water up out of the artificial turf before it filters through the many layers it goes through on the way to the drain pipes. This researcher wrote to me that the picture on my Kid Science Challenge blog that showed me with a vial of turf water was too turbid, or murky and full of stuff. He said that showed that the field wasn’t draining properly.

This is what I mean about the way I use a field is different from what adults think and expect. I am taking the same water that splashes on me when I play, or soaks into my socks and cleats, not some water that has filtered through layers of mats and sand and things. I think this is why it’s good to have kids do research, because I see things differently from a grown-up researcher sometimes, I see it as a soccer player who plays on these fields every day.


May 25th, 2009

Plant Study of Turf and Grass Water

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

As part of my study of runoff water from both synthetic turf and grass soccer fields I began a plant study about 10 weeks ago. First I soaked peat growing medium in water I took from an artificial turf soccer field. I soaked two other peat tubes in water from a grass soccer field, and the third in tap water. Then I planted carrot seeds in each.

The seeds germinated and grew stems, and when the secondary leaves came out I took a few seedling and potted them into small peat pots with potting soil. I water each plant every day with the water from its type of field, or tap water. Today I saw that the roots were coming through the bottom of some of the peat pots, so I repotted them into bigger clay pots. My mom bought a grow light for them, so the seedlings can get enough light to grow into plants that make carrots.

Once the plants are full-grown I want to take them to Dr. Adina’s lab so she can help me to examine them and see how they may have grown differently because of the water used to grow them. The grass-water plant isn’t growing as well as the tap water plant or the turf water plants right now, so I’m asking him to try harder!


May 19th, 2009

My Plant Experiment – the carrots are growing!

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

Carrot grown in turf water under grow lamp

Carrot grown in turf water under grow lamp

I planted carrot seeds in peet that I soaked in turf field water or grass field water. They’ve been growing for about 8 weeks. I water them every day with water from turf or grass. I also have one that I’ve just watered with tap water. My mom got a grow light for them, and today I saw their roots are growing through the bottoms of their cups. I put them in bigger pots. I hope Dr. Adina can help me see if the plants end up any different because of the water.

Carrot growing through the bottom of its cup

Carrot growing through the bottom of its cup

Repotted (Turf Water) Carrot Plant

Repotted turf water plant


May 19th, 2009

What a Weekend!

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

Kamau and Claire interviewed for Weekend Edition on NPR

Kamau and Claire interviewed for Weekend Edition on NPR

This weekend I met Kamau Hamilton, another Kids’ Science Challenge winner. We went to SETI and learned about where intelligent life might exist on other planets. Kamau and I went into the sound booth and recorded “Weekend Edition” with Mr. Scott Simon from National Public Radio. Then I went to the science faire held at SETI and built a trebuchet (catapult), dissected owl pellets, and built a car. On Sunday we met at my house and went on a special guided tour of the California Academy of Sciences with SETI’s Jill Tarter. The planetarium was awesome, but it made me dizzy. I had to leave early as my soccer team was playing, so we drove an hour north of San Francisco for my games. I was glad that I scored a goal and made a few assists.

Click Here to See Claire’s Soccer Field Runoff PowerPoint

SETI's Jill Tarter hosted us at the California Academy of Sciences

SETI's Jill Tarter hosted us at the California Academy of Sciences


May 11th, 2009

Learning About Dr. Adina’s Lab

Claire Dworsky, Water Quality Project Winner

Today we drove to UC Santa Cruz to visit Dr. Adina’s lab. We brought a big cooler of all my frozen samples. I met the lab professionals and learned about reagents, and saw the instruments and machines used in testing my samples. I used a syringe with a filter to strain the particles out of some samples. We should see some results in the next few days that will tell us what nutrients are in the samples we tested. I love working in the lab.