By Gary Thomas
Ahnaf Choudhury from South Riding, Va., created a floodplain model that received $2,000 as a first prize in the 2012 Thacher Environmental Research Contest, an annual competition conducted by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) for students of grades 9-12. In this competition, students are required to use geospatial tools and information to produce innovative projects.
Paul David and Dillen Maurer, third place winners of the 2012 IGES Thacher Environmental Contest, collect data outdoors.
Recent events like the Pakistan’s Attabad Lake landslide and the Eastern U.S. floods inspired Choudhury to create the floodplain model. He used the data from the NASA Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Global Digital Elevation Model in the geographic information systems to prepare the model, which provides topographical information of the surveyed regions and remote areas.
Ehsan Jafree, a 12th grade student from Ashburn, Va., won the second prize of $1,000 for investigating the connection between land cover and stream health in Loudoun County, Va. Using ArcGIS, he created maps to analyze the effect of construction on the stream degradation over the last decade. Jafree stated that he was particular about determining key percentages of construction and forestation, which would link with particular stream health values so as to aid developers improve environmental planning.
The third prize of $500 went to Dillen Maurer and Paul David, 12th grade students from Glendale, California, for their study on the effects of invasive, non-native plants in an isolated area and the means to protect such area. Inspired by the hazards of invasive plants that were discussed in a mountain biking association meeting, Maurer became interested to study on invasive plants. Maurer and David marked the plant species coordinates in Santa Cruz Island, and using a GIS software mapped the plants location.
Amazon.com awarded a gift card of $200 to the teachers of the winners.