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S3 Episode 03: MADScientists: Fertilizers and Water Quality

Four sixth grade students in Naperville, Illinois discuss their experiment comparing phosphorus runoff from natural and artificial fertilizers. They entered their research in the U.S. Army’s eCyberMission competition. As one of only five sixth grade National Finalist Teams, they  competed in nationals in Virginia the week of June 17-22, 2018 and won first place in their division! Congratulations to the MADScientists!

This episode is part of Series 3: Celebrating Earth Day. For a list of ParkTalk episodes and series visit

The four students in the order in which they spoke in this interview are:  Diya, Siya, Meera and Anjali.

(L to R): Diya and Siya

(L to R): Meera and Anjali

The students are from Kennedy and Madison Junior High Schools in Naperville, and call themselves the MADScientists. Currently in sixth grade, they share a passion for scientific research, and began their own research while in 5th grade. Their curiosity has led them to study environmental issues, specifically, how fertilizers can pollute our ponds, lakes and streams.   

They first contacted the Naperville Park District in fall 2017 when they heard about the Park District’s Sustainable Parks Initiative to maintain playgrounds and 8 parks with only organic products. They met with our staff and with staff from the City of Naperville’s water department for advice on their research and then presented their preliminary results in February to a small audience including Park District and City staff, Mayor Chirico, Councilwoman Patty Gustin and Park District Executive Director Ray McGury.

Those of us who saw their presentation were impressed with their energy and passion for scientific study and their desire to use science to help solve a real problem. We are excited that they can share this with our listeners.

The students’ parent advisor is Dr. Srimani Chakravarthi.

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