Delaware Sea Grant and the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment announced the winners of the 2020 Coast Day Fifth-Grade Essay Contest and its photo contest.
A day of community engagement in marine and environmental science, Coast Day was held virtually this year for the first time.
This year’s essay contest asked fifth-grade participants to write about a virtual data set and what the dataset shows, what trends they see, how scientists or communities could use these data, and what actions the student could take that would influence these data in the future.
Winning first place was Eric Lewis, a home-schooled student who wrote about how the changing climate is impacting Delaware residents.
“Climate is different from the weather as climate is weather over a long span of time, whereas weather is what it is like right at that moment,” said Lewis in his winning essay. “The temperature maps for the state of Delaware so far this year show an increase in temperature and precipitation from normalcy.”
He said that by using temperature and precipitation data, scientists can figure out where precipitation is increasing and put safety measures for flooding in place. Lewis also said that people can help with climate change by educating everyone on how to reduce their carbon footprints.
“If people know the effects of climate change and how to prevent them, they will be more likely to change their habits,” said Lewis.
Second place went to Nadia Ahmed, a student in Jacqueline Kisiel’s class at Rehoboth Elementary School. Ahmed’s essay focused on sea level rise and how the sea level has risen in Delaware over the last 100 years.
Ryan Day, also a student in Kisiel’s class, won third place for his essay on how the landscape of Lewes changed between 1961 and 2013 - comparing the two years through the use of aerial photographs.
Honorable mentions went to Danika Davidson and Brooklyn Montgomery, both students at Rehoboth Elementary School, and Miyaunna Coore, from Leasure Elementary School in Bear.
The Coast Day Photo Contest asked participants to take pictures of Delmarva’s natural landscape that featured sequenced, fractal or other numeric patterns, such as those observed in certain leaves, pinecones and plant structures, insect and animal anatomies, as well as other subjects.
Michele Walfred was the winner with her image of a tree overturned in the sand at Cape Henlopen State Park in February 2020.
Walfred said that she and her husband decided to take a walk one day and that the beach was virtually empty.
“There had been a lot of wind and storming prior. The wind created amazing patterns in the sand, before footprints,” said Walfred. “I saw an old dead tree all by itself resting on the sand. I wondered how it got there. I thought the pattern was very beautiful.”
Runner-up was Jill Oliver with her closeup photo of a bee on a sunflower. The closeup photo allowed her to highlight the intricate patterns of the sunflower.