ENGLEWOOD — Winning first place in Junior Division botany at the 58th State Science and Engineering Fair hasn’t sunk in for Eleanor Keys.
She is one of three state participants who attend L.A. Ainger Middle School. Others include Kelsey Hansen and Sarah Lown.
“Ever since I got back into the car, I’m like, ‘Did I really just do that?’” Eleanor said.
Eleanor’s agriculture project is based on Dr. Maynard Murray’s book “Sea Energy Agriculture.” She also took first-place honors at the Thomas Edison Regional Science Fair.
Her project involved growing tomato plants from seed using different watering solutions including sea water. It was titled “The Relative Impact of Ocean Solution as a Watering Medium for Plants and Its Implements of Mineral Content of the Fruit.”
“I read Murray’s book and all the tests he conducted in the 1950s had a 100 percent success rate,” Eleanor said.
The media she tested included deep ocean water (she acquired it online), household water from the tap, sea water from Boca Grande and Miracle Gro fertilizer.
“My hypothesis was that deep ocean water would produce the highest amount of tomatoes as well as the highest mineral content, because it contains 90 of the 92 natural elements,” Keys said. “What I found was that the seawater plants produced an average of 70 tomatoes compared to 45 of the deep ocean water, 17 for the household water and 14 for the fertilizer. I tested this for 133 days which is approximately 19 weeks.”
The purpose for her project, she said, was to prove how invaluable seawater can be in developing countries for agriculture.
“There are millions of starving people around the world and the farmers in these countries are suffering,” Eleanor said. “They can easily get access to the seawater around their countries and it’s abundant. Instead of importing fertilizers into their countries, they can use the seawater if they dilute it to 1:100 ratio and if they put it on their plants, it produces bigger crops. Their crops grow more quickly and which in turn, saves lives. It feeds more people. These also have a higher mineral content which is better for consuming.”
Only high school students compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in May, Eleanor said.
Port Charlotte High School student Angelique Noles, who placed fourth in Senior Division botany, will be presenting her research at the International Science Fair.
Eleanor said she hopes to study law and natural science at Harvard or be an entrepreneur.
Kelsey won third place overall and first place in animal sciences for her project, “Painting Dolphins” at the Thomas Edison Regional Science Fair.
She explored human and dolphin communication through painting. The project took three months of study and research with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
“My goal would be to go to Cornell University to major in animal training and animal psychology,” Kelsey said.
Sarah won first place in environmental sciences at the Thomas Edison Regional Science Fair.
She studied the carbon dioxide intake from weeds and trees.
“It was a continuation project from two years ago when I tested carbon dioxide intake between five different trees,” Sarah said. “I was in contact with an Australian scientist who was working on something similar on a grand scale.”
Sarah hopes to be a teacher and is looking at Eckerd College or Florida Gulf Coast University after high school.