The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 26, 2013

Young scientists compete in annual MSSU fair

JOPLIN, Mo. — Sixth-grader Chloe Keller had heard news reports about the Joplin tornado churning up lead and cadmium dust.

So when she was looking for a project idea for the science fair at South Middle School, a list of suggestions that included lead testing caught her attention.

On Tuesday, “How Much Lead Is in Joplin’s Soil?” advanced her to the Missouri Southern State University Regional Science Fair, held at Billingsly Student Center.

Chloe’s was one of 101 projects from 11 schools to compete in the fair’s junior division, made up of students in sixth through eighth grades. There also were 53 projects from students in eight high schools in the senior division, according to fair director Vickie Roettger, who is a biology teacher. Some of the projects were done by teams rather than single students.

“I heard them on the news talking about how lead levels could harm us,” Chloe said, so she started her study to test for the presence of lead by ordering a science test kit from an Internet supplier. Then she took soil samples from several sites in the tornado zone: Cunningham Park, her aunt and uncle’s lot where their house was destroyed in the tornado at 2601 Virginia Ave., the cross where St. Mary’s Catholic Church was destroyed by the tornado, and Garvin Park.

Every place tested negative except Garvin Park at 28th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“The Garvin Park test immediately turned dark brown, and that’s enough to really harm someone,” Chloe said.

Both Garvin and Parr Hill parks have been closed since last June as a result of the detection of heavy metals in the soil left by tornado damage.

City officials believe the contamination came from soil or chat that was exposed when trees were uprooted and houses were destroyed.

The Environmental Protection Agency last year awarded Joplin a grant of $2.4 million to pay for cleanups of public properties and yards found to be contaminated.

The city’s health director, Dan Pekarek, said contaminated soil was removed from Garvin Park in November, December and February. He said Chloe’s test may have been taken in January in an area not cleaned yet. There also are possibilities that samples can be taken inches away from each other and show different results, or tests can be unreliable, he said.

Another contestant, Tyler Gray, 13, chose his topic close to home as well.

“My mom was planting a garden and she wondered what kind of potting soil to use, so I decided to test different kinds,” he said. He found that a name-brand soil with fertilizer additives worked better than plain potting soil. His lima bean plants popped up on schedule in 22 days in the name-brand mixture. “The regular soil didn’t even germinate,” Tyler said.

Roettger said this was the 24th year for the MSSU science fair. In past years, the fair was held on Tuesday night with awards announced on Thursday night, but last year the event was conducted as a one-day event, and that seems to have paid off. Entries more than doubled this year. “So we are ecstatic,” Roettger said.

Results of the fair were not yet available late Tuesday afternoon.

Text Only
Local News
  • Ballot issues dominate GOP event

    A maze of campaign yard signs lined the sidewalk at Big Spring Park, leading up to a line of local candidates for public office with rolled-up sleeves shaking hands with potential voters.

    July 24, 2014

  • Mike Pound: It’s time for some football

    The arrests, the announced suspensions and the contract disputes can mean only one thing: Somebody is ready for some football.

    July 24, 2014

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hanaway says leadership missing under Gov. Nixon

    When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Hanaway walked into the banquet room at Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant this week, she was greeted by some of Joplin’s more prominent business leaders.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shrine Bowl band, cheerleaders, players arrive in Pittsburg this week

    Band members were the first Kansas Shrine Bowl participants to arrive at Pittsburg State University this week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

Must Read


Amendment 8 in Missouri proposes a special lottery ticket to help fund state veterans homes. How will you vote?

For it.
Against it.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter