Water test wins Northbrook student science affair award

Water test wins Northbrook student science affair award

The future looks bright for Ileana Cozuc of Northbrook. The 11-year-old fifth-grader at Winkelman Elementary School in Glenview was awarded “Most Likely to Win a Nobel Prize” at the West Northfield District 31 Science Fair on March 20 at Field School in Northbrook for her project on water quality in three suburbs. The Science Fair was sponsored by the District 31 PTO (Parent Teacher Organization).

Ileana’s project is called “Tap Water Northbrook, Glenview or Wheeling?”

“I decided to do this because I live in Northbrook, Glenview is a surrounding area near me and that’s where my school is, and Wheeling is another surrounding area,” Ileana said.

She tested the water at three sites in each of those suburbs. In Northbrook, Ileana tested the water at the Northbrook Public Library, the Northbrook DP gas station, and the Northbrook Chipotle. Her Glenview test sites were the Glenview Park District, the Glenview Jewel-Osco, and the Glenview Ice Center. In Wheeling, she tested the water at the Wheeling Park District, the Wheeling Walmart, and the Wheeling Walgreens. Ileana used a test kit to evaluate 16 elements. The test kit explained what each of those elements meant.

“I first located the water sources to collect samples,” Ileana said. “Then I tested the water for contamination—pollution and bacteria. Then I did a test strip for two seconds and then removed it. Then I compared the results to the color chart and compared the results.”

Ileana shared her findings at the Science Fair.

“Overall, the results showed that most of the elements that were tested were average level, which means that was okay,” Ileana reported. “Northbrook had a lower water hardness and pH level. Also, it had zero levels for lead. Glenview was the highest for lead.”

Ileana noted that 30 middle school students participated in the Science Fair, with 20 projects.

Learning that she was cited as “Most Likely to Win a Nobel Prize” “made me feel happy and smart,” Ileana said.

“She’s really driven,” Ilean’s father Marius Cozuc said. “When she sets her mind to something she doesn’t give up. I’m very proud of her.”

Cozuc said that he was impressed with the way Ileana described her project to visitors and the judges. “She was very professional,” he said. “She took her time to explain the project and didn’t seem nervous at all. As a parent, that makes you really proud.”

Cozuc said that he was initially surprised that his daughter was doing a project on suburban water quality, “but at the same time, I understood why she was doing it. She’s really interested in Northbrook in general and knowing what goes on around the neighborhood, as well as the school district.”

Sakina Kadakia, who was on the PTO Science Fair Committee which ran the event, said,
the judges selected Ileana’s project for the award because of “the relevancy of the topic — testing water sources — and her information showed a passion for clean water and the environment.”

Sakina reported that Ileana won one of five special awards and was given a $10 Amazon gift card prize.

Myrna Petlicki is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

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