From Library Program Participant to Regional Science Fair Champion

Amaa Wijetunga, a fifth-grader at Discovery Elementary School, loves to participate in activities provided by Grand Forks Public_, especially the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities offered on school early out days. While participating in these activities, Library STEM coordinator, Delores Clark, recognized Amaa’s curiosity and encouraged her to participate in the Northeast ND Regional Science & Engineering Fair. With Delores as her sponsor, Amaa has participated in the science fair for the past two years, representing Grand Forks Public_ as well as her school.

Last year, Amaa’s science fair project was “What Filters Water Better?”

Her goal: use materials readily available in rural developing countries to create a better and easier water filtration method.

Her motivation: give kids in these countries better access to clean drinking water.

To conduct her experiments, Amaa built a stand for the filtration tests using tools borrowed from her family’s tool shed. On working with Amaa, Delores says, “Amaa really is spatially intelligent. She just has a natural sense of what to do and likes doing it. I think she’d make a really good engineer.”

“I think she’d make a really good engineer.”

-Delores Clark, STEM Coordinator at GFP_

From that experiment, Amaa determined that, of the materials tested, cloth filtered the water the best. This year she wanted to find out what type of cloth would work best, so she conducted an experiment testing different fabrics. Her project, “What Type of Cloth is Best for Water Filtration?” received three awards in the 2021 Northeast ND Regional Science & Engineering Fair—Elementary Recognition; Best Project in Engineering; and Grand Champion, Elementary Division.

By participating in this event, Amaa gained a lot of knowledge. She and her family are grateful for the organizers and the sponsors of the science fair, the schools, and Grand Forks Public_ for giving Amaa this opportunity. Her sponsor, Delores, shared, “I was delighted to see that Amaa had won the Regional Science Fair Elementary Championship. I was recently asked by NASA to commit to teaching the Artemis generation, Amaa’s generation, science content about the next Moon mission. She is exactly the kind of student who inspires me to provide STEM activities for patrons.”

What’s Next for Amaa?

Next, Amaa hopes to explore how many layers of denim, the most effective fabric from her experiment, best filter dirty water. In the meantime, she will continue to participate in upcoming library programming like NASA Astro Camp, which starts this June.

Amaa shares, “I wish more children could visit the public library and make use of these opportunities to participate in the STEM and STEAM activities provided. It’s a wonderful place to spend your time.”

Don’t just take Amaa’s word for it—learn more about this summer’s programming opportunities, such as Astro Camp 2021, at Grand Forks Public by visiting gflibrary.com/summerreading, contacting childrens@gflibrary.com, or calling 701-772-8116 ext. 13.

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