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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

MAST sixth grader wins first at state science fair

Thai Durham and his eco-friendly living brick science project.
Courtesy Ms.Ervin

Thai Durham, a grade 6 student at MAST Academy, participated in this year’s State Science Fair and won first place in civil engineering for his project: a living brick.

Durham explained that the brick he created is composed of mycelium; which is the root system of mushrooms, growing it in different substrates then drying it out, and baking it, the baking process allows the brick to withstand weather and hold strong.

“I’ve always wanted to help the environment and when I learned that concrete production releases a huge amount of carbon emissions I wanted to create an alternative and that’s the idea I came up with.” Said Durham of what inspired the project.

Melanie Ervin, a grade 6 science teacher at MAST, gives each of her students a packet and rubric at the start of the year for projects they will need to submit to an in-house science fair for 153 middle schoolers. The project is worth a total of 15 grades. The students have three months to complete their visions.

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“I want the projects to be relevant to them and their age group…something going on in your life and your world that’s important to you,” Ervin said of her expectations.

Durham first went to regionals and then was selected for States, his project was considered to be in the top 10% of Florida; in June he’ll be competing in the National Science Fair, where he could potentially win first place for his living brick, but this time on a national level competing with the best of the best science focused high schoolers and middle schoolers across the U.S.

Even the process of getting to regionals was an uphill climb; first, MAST selected three students to represent the school then they had to be interviewed by scholars and professors to see if they got to participate.

Once at regionals Durham’s project shined and what started as a school project ended up being a real creation for good and earned him hard work recognition.

“Never give up, keep working hard even when you think your idea isn’t good enough, keep on working hard” Durham advised.

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About the Contributor
Camila Gomez
Camila Gomez, Staff Writer
Camila Gomez is a freshman and journalist at MAST Academy. This is her first year here at MAST and her first time trying out journalism. She’s looking forward to writing for The Beacon. “I chose journalism because language arts is my favorite subject and it sounded fun” she says. Gomez’s decided on coming to MAST for the location, as well as the academics. “I actually almost went to Immaculata-La Salle High School but eventually decided on MAST,” Gomez said. Besides school Gomez really enjoys American football. “If this school had American football I would love to cover it for the newspaper.”
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