Last year when Riverwood International Charter School student Pascal Acree was a sophomore in Honors Chemistry, he did his science fair project on the effect of environmental conditions on radon levels in homes. This year, as a junior, he took it to the next level — making a poster and presenting at the international Radon Symposium in Charleston, SC.
He said he was inspired to do the project because of radon test results in his own home.
“My science project examined the effect of environmental conditions on radon levels in a home,” Pascal said. “I was motivated to pursue this because a radon test had recently been performed in our house.
“There was a period of time during the two-day testing window that had unusually high levels of radon which corresponded to times of heavy rain. I wanted to investigate further to see if there was a connection. In addition to weather, I also experimented with the HVAC system, letting it run either in normal mode where forced air only blows when the thermostat kicks in or having the fan run continuously. Luckily, last autumn was unusually rainy so I had a chance to conduct tests under a variety of combinations of weather conditions and HVAC settings to give a full sample space for the research. My conclusions were that the presence of rain increased radon concentration levels, and that having the HVAC fan on continuously reduced radon concentration levels.”
Pascal said that attending the symposium gave him a peek into the real world.
“Attending the conference gave me insight into how the professional world works and how to reach people with similar interests,” he said. “For example, I met another presenter, an epidemiologist from the CDC, who is now working on Ebola statistical predictions.”
Science isn’t Pascal’s only interest. Besides being co-founder and president of the Riverwood Science Olympiad team, he plays varsity tennis and Ultimate Frisbee, and tutors AP World History, and IB Chemistry and Biology. He is also a member of the Beta Club and the National Science Honor Society, and volunteers for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. As a freshman, Pascal’s science fair project was related to tennis and was published in an international journal.
“I am a researcher at heart,” Pascal said. “When I observe an event in real life I cannot help myself from thinking of the root cause and effect. In the cases of tennis and radon, I went all the way to publish my results.”
In college, Pascal plans to study the biomedical field and wants to eventually become a medical practitioner and researcher.
-This article was reported by Sierra Middleton, a student at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School.