SPOKANE, Wash. – A group of local high school students recently qualified for the International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The opportunity allowed them to compete for scholarships, meet other bright students, and brush shoulders with scientific and political leaders.
Mead High School senior Aislin Gamon was among these students and the first from Mead HS to attend. She qualified for the competition with her senior “capstone” project focused on green tea and possible therapeutic qualities for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“I really enjoyed that I was able to be a part of a diversity. From all across the world, there were 81 countries, provinces and territories there, and that was a really cool opportunity for me,” Gamon said.
Gamon worked on the project for many months at a local retirement home, where she monitored patients’ cognition to see if green tea consumption could offer any benefits.
The project required hours of work in and out of the classroom. But the hard work was made a bit easier by a personal motivation.
“My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about a year ago. And that really directly influenced me because I wanted to base my capstone project on him,” Gamon said.
She said her grandfather David Seim is starting to lose many of his short-term memories.
If you recognize Aislin's grandfather on the left, it may be because you have seen him on KREM 2 before.
Seim and his wife ‘Dot’ sat down with KREM 2 last year to talk about is diagnosis.
Gamon’s grandfather displayed a deep love for his family on our show a year ago. Clearly, his granddaughter reciprocates that love.
“I knew going into this that there was going to be a lot of limitations, a lot of obstacles I would have to overcome… but I knew it was something that I really cared about and that it was something I wanted to endure through and finish well,” she added.
Mead HS biomedical science teacher Carol Dever said Gamon went after her project “with every ounce of determination she had.”
“She wouldn't give up. She felt so passionate about it, that there has to be something that we can do to help patients with memory problems and dementia. It was very personal to her,” Dever added.
Gamon said the results of her experiment did not point to “a significant correlation between green tea and cognitive ability for the dementia patients she studied.” Regardless, she knows these outcomes are just as important as scientists look for effective treatments.
She added that her capstone helped solidify her post-high school plans. Gamon is headed to Carroll College in Helena, Montana, in the fall to study nursing.
Both she and her grandfather are hopeful a cure is on the horizon.
“He's definitely a big cheerleader,” Gamon said.