Grand Award

Second Place

Hairy Oil Saves the World

Environmental Studies
Gianna Jimenez Jocelyn Parks

Patricia Garcia

Each year 134 million gallons of oil are dumped into the ocean annually according to the “National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association” When larger spills happen we resort to using dispersants filled with toxicants to clean them up. These harmful chemicals and toxicants end up polluting the ocean and harming living organisms. Dispersants are toxic to fish that come across them throughout their whole life, from egg to adulthood. These dispersants can also harm commercial fish, we will consume these harmful toxins that can cause us to become severely ill. Before beginning our research we had come across a video that showed human hair mats could absorb large amounts of oil. We immediately became interested in this topic because we know pollution is a big problem as well as the chemicals used to break down the oil. We know human hair can absorb oil from water but we wanted to take that idea further by trying different types of animal hairs to see if one would work better than another. This experiment was conducted to further test the idea of oil-absorbing hair mats to improve their effectiveness. Most if not all oil spilled into the ocean is something you’d call crude oil. Crude oil can be bought in huge barrels but it can be extremely pricey. We decided to use motor oil for our project because we thought it would create a closer idea of what the real thing would be like. We found animal hides at a yard sale and decided to incorporate them into our project by shaving them. We found a fox and coyote hide and we were given a buffalo hide from one of our parents. Our friend gave us the dog hair we needed for our experiment, the dog was a mini Australian shepherd with a border collie mix. We asked around a neighborhood if anyone had a goat or horse. Luckily one lady had an old racing horse who was shedding and brushed out hair for us. Her neighbor had a goat and they let us watch her and her dad give Betsy the goat a haircut. We then called a groomer to see if they could save their cat hair for us. We wanted to figure out which hair type absorbs oil the best without leaving too much oil in the water. This is how we came up with the idea for our project.

Project presentation

View Project Presentation file

Research paper

View Research Paper file

Leave a comment (comments will be released after judging).

Comments submitted will not be visible until after judging is complete. Comments are public and should be used to congratulate and encourage this young scientist or engineer! Comments should not contain personal identifying information or reveal any awards that the student has won.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *