Riverside middle-schooler invited to speak at medical conference | PostIndependent.com

Riverside middle-schooler invited to speak at medical conference

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox

Sixth-grader Tanner Zimmerman stuck sterile swabs in his classmates’ nostrils and discovered something. The Riverside Middle School student’s research for a science fair project found a higher than average rate of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in his classmates.He swabbed nostrils because he learned that the nostrils are where the bacteria cultivates. He said he incubated his samples in chrome agar for 48 hours. Chrome agar prevents other bacteria from growing and turns color to indicate if MRSA is present, he said.Zimmerman found that about 40 percent of 20 RMS students tested positive for MRSA. He said this is more than one-third higher than a 2001 national average from the Center for Disease Control he cited in his project.

“Nobody that I talked to expected that much of an increase,” Zimmerman said.Zimmerman said MRSA is a form of staph that is resistant to antibiotics, and that it can cause bad skin infections and pneumonia.”It’s really dangerous if you get a skin infection from it,” he said. He learned that it became resistant due to people failing to take antibiotics long enough or by taking improper dosages.He came up with the idea for the project after reading a magazine article about MRSA and said his dad is familiar with MRSA due to working at the Grand River Medical Center. He wanted to try to find out how prevalent MRSA was at Riverside, so he designed his experiment and hypothesized that 20 percent would be infected.His parents weren’t the only ones impressed by the study.

“He actually discovered something,” RMS teacher Cami Duty said. “It’s one of the best science projects I have ever seen, and I have been teaching science for 20 years.”Zimmerman won at a regional contest in Grand Junction in February and received an honorable mention at the state competition – the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair – the first week of this month. Besides learning about microbiology, he also won $100. The Colorado Medical Society got wind of his project and invited him to present it to about 300 doctors at a conference this September in Steamboat at the Sheridan Resort.”They’re probably all going to be experts on it so I’m going to have to study up,” he said.

Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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