Shady Side Academy student 'worms' way to award
As seventh-grader Walter Navid dug a home for a bucket of earthworms in the garden at Shady Side Academy Middle School, it was as if he were bidding farewell to old friends.
“One of the simplest creatures on Earth and they can do amazing work. They are natural-born recyclers,” said Walter, who studied worms and their habitat and entered his findings in a contest by the American Museum of Natural History.
His work earned Walter, 13, a Young Naturalist Award for the essay, “What Produces Nutrient-Rich Soil?”
He is one of two students nationwide to earn the Naturalist Award, which will be distributed at a ceremony May 30 at the New York-based museum.
Middle school teacher Bonnie Maxwell had students conduct experiments as part of her science curriculum. In all, she submitted 28 student entries to the Young Naturalist Awards, 15 of which were selected as finalists and semifinalists.
Maxwell said Walter's task was to create an experiment involving the study of nature and he chose worms and their composting abilities. Walter studied two types of earthworms in 12 different habitats for four months. He learned that making their home in the dirt can make it a richer environment.
In separate containers, Walter studied how long it took food and other scraps to decay as opposed to when paired with worms.
“They did a great job of turning decaying matter into fertile soil,” he said.
Walter's teacher said she wasn't surprised when he was chosen as a winner.
“His entire project was excellent from start to finish,” she said.
“He had hundreds of worms in containers and collected great amounts of data.”
The Young Naturalist Awards is a program of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology, through the museum's Department of Education. The science-based research competition for students in grades seven through 12 is aimed at promoting participation in biology, ecology, Earth science and astronomy. More than 900 essays were judged by a panel of scientists, educators, environmentalists and writers.
Walter said he is looking forward to his trip to Manhattan, where he will receive his award during a luncheon and behind-the-scenes tour of the museum.
“It is interesting that a creature that is so small, about 4 or 5 inches long, has led me to one of the world's largest museums that exhibits the world's great natural giants: a stampeding herd of elephants, the giant sequoia and a Galapagos giant tortoise,” Walter said.
“Never underestimate the power of the little guys.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Write-in votes to determine Aspinwall primary winners
- Lower Valley observes Memorial Day with parades, services
- More electronic books to join traditional counterparts in Fox Chapel Area classrooms
- Sharpsburg marina home to pontoon boat rental company
- Path to offer O’Hara office park walkers room to roam
- Memorial Day weekend events planned for Lower Valley communities
- Drake: Promoting community center O’Hara woman’s new duty
- Aspinwall native dedicated majority of life working to support servicemen
- Fox Chapel Area budget plan includes technology upgrades