Student Science Project Wins Carnegie Science Award

Eleanor Barth-Wu, Class of 2022, was honored with the Senior Division Student Carnegie Science Award for her Pittsburgh Regional Science & Engineering Fair project, “Formaldehyde Production During E-Liquid Degradation.” Curious as to how ‘vaping’ and e-cigarettes impact users, Eleanor explored the chemical effects of the vaporization process and ultimately found that heating e-liquid produces formaldehyde, and that longer heating times produce a higher concentration of the chemical.
At Ellis, Eleanor was emboldened to query and question her hypothesis in an independent study course with the guidance of Upper School Chemistry Teacher Erica Holtgraver. During school hours and at home, Eleanor ensconced herself in in-depth research, engineered creative solutions to problems she encountered, and analyzed her findings as she explored the health risks and side effects of the vaporization process. She even had the opportunity to delve into college-level organic chemistry concepts so she could fully understand the chemical mechanisms behind how formaldehyde is generated through vaporization.

“What is so impressive to me as a sponsor, mentor, and teacher, is not only the intrinsic passion Eleanor has for learning about these topics, but also her desire to educate the public on the dangers of these common products,” said Ms. Holtgraver. “Eleanor's passion stems not only from her vibrant curiosity, but also from her desire to help improve the quality of life of others.”

Distributed annually to individuals and organizations in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Science Awards recognize contributions in the fields of science, technology, and education that benefit Western Pennsylvania region and inspire others.