2002-??-??: Pickle Powered Project Prevails [Paul Pantone's GEET, built by two schoolboys, wins Science Fair!]
Palm Desert - Fifth-graders Ali Lanewala and Michael Thompson are concerned enough about the environment that they've taken it on full time.
After winning last year's St. Margaret Episcopal School's annual science fair with a project to clean up the Salton Sea, Lanewala and Thompson won this year's competition on Feb. 28 by building a motor designed to filter toxic schaust.
The project, which has quickly become known as an experiment in "Pickle Power", won the two enthusiastic youngsters a spot at Desert Sands Unified's district competition currently under way through today. They did so with a motor that runs on fluids like pickle juice and Windex.
The only thing that won't power the three-horse power motor is gasoline or anti-freeze, Thompson said.
LESSON:"We were wondering if it was possible to purify air before it's destroyed, but then we talked to some people who told us it was already destroyed," Thompson said. "That's when we also learned that you can't put something in an (exhaust) pipe that can purify air. So we looked at doing it with the engine."
The result was a motor designed by GEET International, a company that researches and develops fuel processors that are fitted into existing engines.
Company founder Paul Pantone created the GEET Fuel Processor as a pollution elimination unit, operating some models on as much as 80 percent water.
"We even tried Coke," Lanewala said. "Our motor could be strong enough to power a bicycle wheel, and it's supposed to purify the air up to 98 percent."
According to science fair coordinator Joan Tingle, the project of Lanewala and Thompson wasn't the only one to defy science. Other winners included seventh-grader Marissa Bergman and sixth-grader Maral Babai, who created a project examining desert soils.
"BEST FAIR": "This was the best science fair I've seen in 30 years of teaching," Tingle said. "This group seemed very enthusiastic. The goal is to learn something while you're having fun."
Lanewala and Thompson would have had an opportunity last year to advance to the state competition, however Tingle said her fourth-graders were not permitted to enter.
The four winners are now having their work judged this week at the 10th Annual "Science Extravaganza" Science Fair, sponsored by the National Date Festival. The fair encompasses some private schools as well as those in the Desert Sands and Coachella Valley Unified School districts.
The awards ceremony will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. today.
Students winning prizes in the Science Fair will go on to compete in the 20th Annual Inland Science and Engineering Fair April 2002, at the National Orange Show Fair Grounds in San Bernardino.
-- By Jeff Donaldson: Desert Sun Jeff Donaldson covers education for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at ((778-4652)) or by e-mail at Jeff.Donaldson at - thedesertsun.com