2012-04-05 / Community News

Project studies path of frozen cod, pollock

Scarborough High School freshman wins at science fair
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

Ting-Ju Chiang, a freshman at Scarborough High School, recently place first in the chemistry, computer science and math section of the Maine State Science Fair. He was the only Scarborough student who took part in the science fair. (Courtesy photo) Ting-Ju Chiang, a freshman at Scarborough High School, recently place first in the chemistry, computer science and math section of the Maine State Science Fair. He was the only Scarborough student who took part in the science fair. (Courtesy photo) Ting-Ju Chiang is new to Scarborough, but he is already making a mark at the high school.

Chiang, a 15-year-old freshman at Scarborough High School, took first place in the Chemistry, Computer Science and Math division of the Maine State Science Fair, held on March 24 at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.

For his project, Chiang evaluated the carbon footprint of imported frozen cod and pollock fillets in New England.

“So much carbon is emitted in the air just from importing the cod and pollock,” Chiang said. “I also looked into how much fuel is used to not only catch the fish, but transport the fish as well.”

B.J. Cunningham, education outreach coordinator at Jackson Laboratory and the coordinator of the science fair, said she was impressed with Chiang’s project.

“It was the amount of math and attention to detail that set his project apart and the fact that this is something that could be used in everyday, regular life,” Cunningham said.

In general, Cunningham said, the science fair judges are looking for projects that use science and math and are presented in a way that is professional and easy to understand.

“He did an amazing job with that,” Cunningham said.

Perhaps what impressed Cunningham the most, she said, was the fact that Chiang signed up for the science fair on his own.

“He took it upon himself to enter the fair without others from the school. He may have had the support of the school, but he was the only person to enter from the school,” Cunningham said. “ He went above and beyond to make it happen.”

Chiang, who moved to Maine from California with his family six months ago, said he became interested in science fairs while he was still living on the west coast after his sister, a Scarborough High School senior, participated in one in California.

After learning about the science fair in November, Chiang, who goes by his nickname Woody, said he started working on the project shortly thereafter. Chiang compared the pricing of 22 frozen cod and pollock fillet products from seven grocery stores around Scarborough and investigated the route that was taken to get them here.

After this research, Chiang found that the majority of the 27,948 metric tons of frozen Atlantic and Pacific Cod and 28,232 metric tons of Alaska pollock fillets imported to the area in 2011, close to 80 percent were imported from China.

“This study found that the long journey of imported frozen cod and pollock fillets generated a total of 35,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or .8 pound of carbon dioxide for each pound of fillet imported,” Chiang wrote in his project’s research report.

The cost to reduce the carbon footprint of importing cod and pollock from China is significant. Using numbers provided by the Congressional Budget Office, which indicates it costs $25 to reduce one ton of carbon emission, Chiang figured it would take $890,000 to offset the carbon emitted from the transportation of cod and pollock from China to New England.

“They always show factories (to illustrate carbon emissions). They don’t show boats which is another big contributor to the global warming impact,” Chiang said.

Chiang said he has been interested in science for a long time, especially anatomy and medical sciences. He would like to eventually become a doctor.

Chiang still has a long ways to go before that happens. In the meantime, Chiang said he will continue to stay involved in the school’s math club and look for an athletic team to be a part of. He was part of his middle school’s intramural soccer team in California and was a participant in Kendo, a Japanese martial art form that teaches swordsmanship using bamboo swords.

Frank Chiang said this summer his son will be taking calculus 1 and English composition at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. Scarborough High School, he said, will recognize the credits earned from the college classes.

“We are happy because Woody can broaden his mind,” Frank Chiang said.

Aside from academics, Chiang works as a volunteer at Scarborough Public Library. His goal, his father said, is to accumulate 200 volunteer hours over the next three years.

Chiang said the science fair experience was a good one and would encourage his classmates to participate in the future.

“Overall Scarborough students should participate in more science fairs. It is fun,” Chiang said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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