Shrewsbury student’s science fair project earns national recognition

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Angad Singh Pannu is a student at Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury. (Photo/Cindy Zomar)

SHREWSBURY – Oak Middle School student Angad Singh Pannu turned curiosity about COVID-19 and immunity into an innovative science experiment earlier this year. 

In September, Pannu and his school community celebrated as that work earned national recognition. 

Pannu took advantage of Shrewsbury’s Oak Middle School Science Fair Club, doing research on his project, “Managing Antioxidant Levels: The Immunity Booster.” 

His diligence paid off when he was named to the Broadcom Masters 300 list, which recognizes 300 young “scientists, engineers and innovators” working “to solve the grand challenges of the 21st century,” according to a press release.

Student takes project to local science fairs

Pannu chose his project after hearing about the benefits of antioxidants, particularly as they related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Many different foods are rich in antioxidants, and build our immunity, which is really important now in particular,” he said in a recent interview with the Community Advocate. “I wanted to educate people as to how to find them.”

“In my research phase, I wanted to find the pros and cons because, even though they help fight disease, too many can have a negative effect as they tend to neutralize each other,” he continued. “It’s important to have a balance.”

Pannu then wanted to discover which fruit or vegetable provided the most antioxidants. Secondly, he wanted to know if it was more beneficial to consume in juice or pulp form. 

His hypothesis stated that he believed oranges, in pulp form, would be the winner. 

Using a process known as titration, Pannu had to count how many drops of the antioxidant it would take to get the desired reaction. His test items were bell peppers, apples, tomatoes, oranges and broccoli. To his surprise, bell peppers proved to have the most antioxidants, while apples came in at a distant last. Pulp form was the most rich in antioxidants. 

The antioxidant level in oranges, in either form, ranked in the middle of the five fruits and vegetables. 

Pannu took his project to a regional science fair at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), where it was judged positively in overall rankings. It then placed in the state science fair hosted by Worcester Technical High School. 

Those achievements qualified Pannu to apply for the Broadcom Masters list, involving a process of submitting his project itself alongside “a lot” of writing, according to Science Fair Club Advisor Jeremy Mularella. 

300 award winners chosen out of 1,841 entrants

The 300 students included on the Broadcom list were selected from 1,841 entrants. 

They come from 41 states, plus Guam, with 69 from California, 31 from Florida, and 22 from Texas. 

More than two thirds of students attend public school, with 59 students in private school and 15 in charter schools. 

The remaining students are in home, magnet or online schools according to that aforementioned press release.

Beyond the distinction of joining the Broadcom Masters 300 group, Pannu will receive a t-shirt, a bumper sticker and a special edition booklet of Invention and Innovation articles, provided by The Lemelson Foundation. 

Oak Middle School Principal Ann Jones said she was happy to see Pannu represent the success of the school’s science curriculum and extracurricular offerings with this achievement. 

“All you need to do is provide the opportunity and encouragement and the kids take it from there and love it,” she said.

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