With a deep passion for science, a solid work ethic and a dream, Sacred Heart of Jesus eighth grader Chloe Sebek put everything she had into this year’s state science fair project, “The Effect of Essential Oil on Ascorbic Acid Decay in Citrus Juice.”
The Boulder student’s hard work definitely paid off. She was named state champion at this year’s fair, competing against the state’s brightest middle and high school students.
“It has been a dream of mine throughout my middle school career,” Sebek said. “It is definitely a tough award to win, but it just shows that if your heart has a desire that calls to you, and you are brave enough to pursue it, it will lead you on a journey to help us discover our purpose in life.”
The goal of Chloe’s science fair project was to see if the addition of wild orange essential oil to freshly squeezed orange juice would slow down the decay of ascorbic acid when exposed to various temperatures, allowing vital nutrients to be maintained, providing a natural alternative to the chemical additives being used today.
“Ascorbic acid, known as Vitamin C, is an essential nutrient for human beings to stay healthy, especially during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she explained. “I hypothesized that the addition of essential oil to freshly squeezed orange juice would slow down the rate of oxidation when exposed to various temperatures, reducing ascorbic acid decay.”
Chloe says the data showed that, on average, wild orange essential oil slowed down ascorbic acid decay in freshly squeezed orange juice by 15% at the three highest temperatures tested.
Competing for the state title wasn’t new to Sebek. Her passion for science led her to start competing at the school’s local science fair competition in fifth grade. As a sixth grader, she won first place in chemistry in the Boulder Valley Corden Pharma Regional Science Fair and qualified for State, winning third place there. In seventh grade, she received national recognition with the Broadcom MASTERS and her project ended up being in the top 300 in the whole country.
Now, as an eighth grader, she won best of show at regionals and first at State. She’s hoping to win big at the Broadcam Masters national competition.
“Over the past four years, I’ve worked to develop skills and strategies for beating the toughest competitors and create projects that can produce change in the world,“ she said.
As a young scientist, Sebek knows that her career in science is only beginning.
“In order to create the modern, futuristic world we all dream of, it takes young students with STEM passions today to make that change,” she said. “The minds of young scientists like myself are going to be the ones to solve problems from global warming to cancer. I may be one of the youngest striving to solve science-based issues, but I don’t let my age get in the way of myself working for change and inspiring others.”
Her principal, Dave Kline, says he knows Chloe will continue to inspire others. “She is a scientific-minded young lady who has a passion for STEM and is excited to share her knowledge and discovery with anyone who will listen,” he said.
As for her future, Sebek has big plans. After high school, she will pursue a degree in chemistry at an Ivy League school, but her ambitions don’t stop there.
“Not only do I want to be a chemist, but I also want to become a scientific inventor and change the world with my own invention,” Sebek said enthusiastically. “When I become famous for my life-changing science discoveries, I would like to continue to inspire others by becoming an author and public speaker. I am actually currently working on publishing my project with the Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI)!”
What advice would Sebek give other young people with a passion for science?
“If I, as a successful young scientist, had any advice for other students with similar aspirations, or any aspiration for that matter, it’s to follow your heart and put in the hard work it takes to pursue that dream,” she said. “Because trust me, we all have an important purpose in this world, and we need everyone!”