Winner: Arielle Breuninger, sophomore at Lancaster Country Day High School
Prize: 67th North Museum Science and Engineering Fair Reserve Senior Champion, Society for In Vitro Biology Award
Name of project: “Analyzing the Role of Nickel Surfaces as Pathogen Inhibitors”
What the project does: Due to a large amount of infections transmitted through touch surfaces, Breuninger sought to determine whether nickel-plated brass surfaces of varying thickness impacted antimicrobial effectiveness.
She tested nine different materials, including three nickel-plated brass metals measuring three, seven and 13 microns thick. After 55 trials among the different surfaces, Breuninger found the thickness did not greatly impact the rate in which the nickel-plated brass prevented bacterial growth, which hovered at 97 to 98 percent.
Why she chose it: Breuninger’s project last year at the North Museum Science and Engineering Fair was based on the antibacterial advantage she hypothesized nickel-plated brass had over copper, a long-favored surface for its reported antimicrobial effectiveness.
She said she found further research on nickel-plated surfaces to be a natural follow-up project.