2010 USA Student Finalists

Sarah Cronk

Pleasant Valley Community High School (Bettendorf)

The Sparkle Effect: Spreading Spirit to High Schools Across America
The Sparkle Effect encourages teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in high school cheerleading programs. An on-line Quick-start kit, grants for uniforms, and free on-site training makes starting a squad easy and fun. The result: students with disabilities experience true acceptance and gain confidence as high school students inspire entire communities to embrace inclusion. When everyone cheers, everyone wins.

Atreya Dey
Maharishi School (Fairfield)

Bio-based Nanoparticles: An Expensive Method for Extracting Organic Solvents?
My project explores the possibility of using magnetic nanoparticles to remediate wastewater. The cobalt-ferrite nanoparticles are originally based off of magnetotactic bacteria which biologically produce nanoparticles. The nanoparticles don't act as a filter, instead they "absorb" the organic pollutants, separating the chemicals from water. The two chemicals tested are toluene and diethylene chloride both of which are very common.

Austin Ehlers
Sioux Central High School (Storm Lake)

Operation GPS: Locate, mark and Identify Sioux Rapids Fire Hydrants
Enhanced public safety, firefighter knowledge and public works maintenance are all results of Operation GPS: mapping Sioux Rapids Fire District hydrants. Ehlers mapped fire hydrants and applied GIS software to hydrant locations improving rural and community fire response capacity and city public works efficiency. Operation GPS establishes partnerships, a GIS committee and a small community process to be shared.

Tyler Finchum
Muscatine High School (Muscatine)

Farm Manuals Fast
Manuals are essential to operating, maintaining and repairing farm equipment. Equipment frequently changes ownership but many times its manuals are missing. As equipment ages manuals are vital for making repairs. I founded Farm Manuals Fast to capitalize on this need and to help farmers in the process. My online business sells digital manuals to operators who need the information immediately.

Rachael Goering
Cardinal High School (Agency)

A Harvest of Goodwill
For my project, I built raised garden boxes and planted many varieties of garden produce: fruits and vegetables to provide fresh organic food for the Ottumwa Community Outreach Center. I also provided many prepared dishes and desserts and at the request of the shelter's staff, I provided recipes large enough to feed over thirty people.

Nicholas Goldsmith
Dowling Catholic High School (Des Moines)

Teens for Hospice
Teens for Hospice is a pilot program in which seven Dowling Catholic High School students serve as patient companions to people in hospice. The main goal is to be a positive presence in patients' lives during their time of need. I hope to gain enough experience and insight from the pilot program so it may continue after I graduate.

Jonathaon O'Leary
Davenport Central High School (Davenport)

Green Renewal & Promoting Community Involvement Through Environmental Service
The project Green Renewal aims to make Davenport Central High School a more environmentally-conscious school by increasing both the awareness and involvement of the local community. This project involves opening up an unused rooftop gathering space to students, creating a storm water retention system, hosting a clean-up day, and replacing the Styrofoam lunch trays in the cafeteria.

Marina Ramirez
Columbus Community High School (Columbus Junction)

Home Start
The Home Start program strives to inform parents of the importance of their involvement in their child's education and to prepare young children for school. Parent meetings are held monthly where information on stimulating academic growth in all areas is presented. During the summer, mini school days serve to prepare parents and children for what's to come in school.

Tucker Ruppert
Roosevelt High School (Norwalk)

Meals from the Market Produce Pick Up Program
For my "Meals from the Market Pick-Up Program" I organize a group of volunteers and wagons to INCREASE tax deductible donations of fresh produce, baked goods, etc. from the vendors at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. All of the food collected goes to feed the hungry of Des Moines and Central Iowa.

Colin Ryan
Webster City High School (Webster City)

Kendall Young Park Rejuvenation
My town has been going through some rough times lately. Families are facing the stress of unemployment because the main employer left town. Restoring Kendall Young Park to its old glory has given hope to many community members. Local youth were given a chance to help the city and experience the sense of satisfaction that only comes from hard work.

D. J. Savarese
Grinnell High School (Grinnell)

Plotting Hope: Giving Voice to Non-speaking People
This project gives individuals the inspiration and tools necessary to help non-speaking children learn to communicate through reading and writing. It includes a website ( with ongoing support via email, iChat, or Skype; trainings for the kids, their families, teachers and other support providers; and online gallery ( of writing by people who type to communicate.

Drew Schramm
Woodbury Central High School (Moville)

Making Moville Memorable
Rekindling the spirit and appearance of Moville was this project's goal in preparation for a 2012 quasquicentennial. Completion was achieved through securing resource donations; designing, purchasing and installing banners and flowers; and renovating vacant lots on Main Street. Community involvement and the resulting newspaper articles provided Moville the ability to promote, like Hoover, the importance of investing in the future.

Abbey Smith
Adel-DeSoto-Minburm High School (Adel)

Newton Correctional Facility Leader Dog Program
My project is working with the honors inmates of the Newton Correctional Release Facility in conjunction with Leader Dogs for the Blind. What does that mean? It means going into the Correctional Facilities on a regular basis, working with the inmates on how to train their Leader Dog puppies as well as working with inmates training rescue dogs for adoption.

Robert Starr
Charles City High School (Charles City)

Charles City Landscape Diversification Project
The Landscape diversification project is designed to help maintain the tree population in Charles City. A small bug called the Emerald Ash Borer has been wreaking havoc in the midwest region on ash trees, much like Dutch Elm did. My project will plant non-ash trees to give us a head start on replacing whatever the Ash Borer kills off.

Kendall Van Kooten
Hone School & Pella Community High School (Harvey)

Charles City Landscape Diversification Project
My rain garden, located at the East Welcome Park in Knoxville, is designed to catch and hold run off rain water from a large parking lot before it gets into the city storm drains and Competine Creek. The garden's public location serves as a teaching example to the community on ways to improve water quality and beautify the landscape.