An Arlington teen was named as a top 300 finalist in a national science project competition.
Eyuel Berhanu, a rising 9th grader who went to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, is one of the Top 300 MASTERS in the annual Broadcom MASTERS science fair, which is billed as the nation’s premier Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) competition for middle schoolers.
Eyuel, 14, studied mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) in his project. His uncle is a civil engineer, and through him Eyuel became interested in highway entrance ramps and the reinforced dirt that typically supports them.
For his project, Eyuel tested how adding different types of reinforcement to sand affected the sand’s strength.
“We had a little cube with the top open, and filled it with sand then a type of reinforcement,” Eyuel said. “The reinforcement is very strong, so we couldn’t just put weights on it. We had to stand on it, and the most we had was 300 pounds of weight on it and it didn’t crumble.”
Through research, Eyuel identified the most common types of MSE reinforcements used in construction, and tested each. Between metal strips, ladder metal, plastic geogrid and metal mesh, he found geogrid to be the most effective.
The project was based on a paper Eyuel wrote as a part of the Virginia Junior Academy of Science in late 2019. In January 2020, he submitted his work to Thomas Jefferson’s school science fair, and won first prize.
This advanced him to the Northern Virginia regional science fair, where Eyuel placed in the top 10% of competitors and was nominated to Broadcom MASTERS.
From there, he was selected to the top 300 from an applicant pool of 3,476 students. Eyuel said being chosen from such a large group was surreal, and he had trouble believing it when he first read the email telling him the news.
Eyuel said he pursued science projects out of his passion for STEM.
“My love for science and math [got me involved]. I want to be an engineer when I grow up, so that’s what got me into STEM and science projects like this,” Eyuel said.
When Eyuel was in 7th grade, he said he entered his middle school’s science fair and placed third, failing to qualify for regionals. Having now advanced from his school’s fair to the national stage, Eyuel’s dad, Teguwaze Berhanu, said he thinks persistence is a lesson that Eyuel has taken from his journey.
“He worked a lot and he spent a lot of time,” Berhanu said. “He tried in 7th grade and didn’t make it to regionals. And he tried again and did. He learned that by doing things again and again, he can achieve whatever he wants.”
Eyuel is starting as a freshman in Washington-Liberty High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program this school year. He said he is looking forward to challenging himself in higher level math and science courses, and is excited to compete in science fairs at the high school level.
Photos courtesy the Berhanu family
Public-Private Partnership for Pentagon City Planning — “County Board members on Jan. 25 approved a memorandum of understanding with the coalition of property owners in [Pentagon City], which will guide planning efforts and allocate $1.5 million – about two-thirds of it from the county government, the rest from landowners – to complete it. County Board Chairman Libby Garvey said the aim was a coordinated strategy for redevelopment of the target area, which totals about 85 acres.” [InsideNova]
APS Investigating Swastika Incident — “School officials launched an investigation this week after a student drew a swastika on a piece of paper and handed it to a classmate at a Northern Virginia middle school. The incident took place Tuesday at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington, according to a letter that Principal Keisha Boggan sent parents Wednesday. The hate symbol was later reported to Arlington County police.” [Washington Post]
Industry Supporting Glass Drop-Off Program — “Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) members are partnering to create a circular economy for high quality recycled glass in Northern Virginia. O-I Glass, Inc. (O-I Glass) and Strategic Materials are teaming up to create strong markets for glass in the region through a new glass recycling drop-off program.” [Press Release]
Thanks, Arlington — Thank you to everyone who came out to our 10th anniversary party at Bronson Bierhall in Ballston last night. It was a packed house and we are incredibly grateful to have that kind of support from members of the community, local institutions like the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, local government, and our advertisers — who help support ARLnow and keep our local news free for all. We also met a few commenters and a few soon-to-be commenters last night (you know who you are). Finally, a big thank you to our current and former employees, whose tireless work has helped us reach this anniversary while growing to serve other communities in Northern Virginia.
(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Arlington is kicking off a renovation project for the upper fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
Officials have begun the design phase for the “TJ Upper Field Turf Conversion,” which will transform the sports field — which is also the side of the annual Arlington County Fair — from existing natural grass to synthetic turf.
In addition, other items up for consideration in the project include “new spectator seating, signage, athletic equipment, site furnishings, [and] pathways,” as well as landscaping to remove invasive plants and to improve stormwater management.
The design phase of the project is set to wrap up during the first quarter of 2020, with construction projected to run from the third quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021.
Last year, the middle school’s lower field received new synthetic turf as part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program. The upcoming changes to the upper field were recommended in the Public Spaces Master Plan, and approved by the County Board in the FY 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
A public meeting to discuss the project is scheduled for next week on Wednesday, December 18 at 7 p.m. in the Thomas Jefferson Community & Fitness Center (3501 2nd Street S.).
Photo via Arlington County
(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) Arlington first responders were called to the construction site of the new Alice West Fleet Elementary School this afternoon to rescue a worker.
The worker in need of assistance was located on the second floor of the new school, which is being built adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Middle School at 125 S. Old Glebe Road.
Fire department spokesman Ben O’Bryant told ARLnow that the man was injured after falling off a ladder around around 1:15 p.m. today (Wednesday).
Firefighters then used a ladder truck to transport the worker down from the building’s second floor.
The worker was then taken to a local hospital, where he’s in “serious condition with non-life threatening injuries,” O’Bryant said.
(Updated at noon) The price tag for a new elementary school could soon get a bit larger, in an effort to make the Thomas Jefferson Middle School more accessible for people with disabilities.
Arlington Public Schools officials are asking the School Board to approve an extra $250,000 in spending at Alice West Fleet Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in September 2019, for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) changes at the adjacent middle school.
The board will get its first presentation on that request at its meeting tonight, as staff seek the green light to bump up the “guaranteed maximum price” for the nearly $47 million project. The changes at the middle school are being incorporated into the Fleet project so that they can be “more effectively coordinated and can be completed prior to the 2018-19 School Year.”
APS officials plan to make accessibility adjustments at two of the middle school’s three entrances.
Though accessibility upgrades are already in the larger APS budget, the size of the change to the Fleet budget means APS will need the board’s approval first. Voting on the matter is expected within a few weeks.
The board is set to approve its fiscal year 2019 budget tonight. The nearly $637 million spending plan is set to fund pay raises for most school employees, but does call for slightly larger class sizes at both the elementary and middle school levels.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article mistakenly reported that the changes were planned for the elementary school. Photo courtesy Arlington Public Schools.
Arlington Public Schools plans to add solar panels to five school buildings, including the soon-to-be-built Alice West Fleet Elementary School.
APS issued a Request for Proposals on December 1, calling for companies to bid to install solar panels at Kenmore and Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools, Tuckahoe and Fleet Elementary Schools and Washington-Lee High School.
Fleet Elementary School will be built on the site of Thomas Jefferson, and is projected to be open in September 2019.
In the call for proposals, APS said it is seeking to be increasingly environmentally friendly in construction projects and its existing buildings, and hopes the panels will help it keep up with its schools’ energy demands.
“APS stresses energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in the design of all construction and maintenance projects,” it reads. “APS is aware of the energy and environmental advantages of solar power and has multiple buildings used as schools for all age groups and administrative offices which appear to have design characteristics which make them appropriate for the installation of [solar panels] which will produce electric power to meet, or contribute to meeting, the power needs of APS.”
The successful bidder would install the solar panels, and operate and maintain them under a lease agreement with APS for a minimum of 15 years. APS said the winning company would also be responsible for all installation and maintenance costs, but would pay rent of $1 a year for the panels.
Proposals are due on March 19, 2018. The RFP comes months after Kenmore was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.
Nate Remnants Pushing Out — It has been a rainy and windy morning thanks to the remnants of what was once Hurricane Nate. The heaviest of the rain is over but it is expected to remain windy and humid during the day today, with a gale warning in effect until 6 p.m. for those on the water. [Twitter, Weather Channel]
Voter Registration Up This Cycle — Arlington County has processed twice the number of voter registration transactions between Labor Day and Oct. 6 this year as it did during the same period four years ago, according to elections chief Linda Lindberg. That suggests greater interest in this year’s statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, though County Board and School Board races are also on the ballot. [InsideNova]
Arlington Schools Get Grant — Arlington is among the Virginia localities getting a grant for new school security equipment. Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Langston High School Continuation Program are together receiving $44,480 through the state program, put in place in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting in Connecticut. A total of $6 million is being divvied out to dozens of school systems, paying for “video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Parents of Thomas Jefferson Middle School students are petitioning for traffic calming measures on a stretch of road near the school where they report witnessing a number of vehicle-pedestrian close calls.
They’re asking for a crossing guard and a traffic-calming measure — such as a four-way stop — at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and Irving Street, which is a heavily traveled pedestrian thoroughfare for students going to and from school.
The entire stretch of 2nd Street S. near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, from Irving Street to Old Glebe Road, is well-traveled by vehicles and does not have four-way stops. Parents chose to ask for traffic calming at the Irving intersection because of the significant amount of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic at that particular spot. Plus it’s one of the few streets in the neighborhood that runs uninterrupted all the way from Columbia Pike to Washington Blvd., making it easier for motorists to speed than on adjacent streets.
The intersection, like the others on 2nd Street, may not have four-way stops, but it does have painted pedestrian crosswalks. Neighborhood residents say motorists ignore people in the crosswalks, though, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. “That’s prime commuter time and prime school time,” said TJ parent Alisa Key.
Key saw a girl nearly get hit while walking in the crosswalk to school, and that prompted her to take action. “I couldn’t walk away from that without doing anything,” she said. “In the past two weeks, we have had multiple near misses and countless instances of motorists… disregarding kids in the crosswalk. We have taken it upon ourselves to help the kids cross safely because APS and the county have not.”
The group of concerned parents invited county officials to visit the site to see the dangers that students and other pedestrians face. The group reports that a number of representatives showed up from Arlington Public Schools, the county’s Department of Environmental Services, the police department and the county board.
DES currently is collaborating with APS and police on reviewing the intersection and will report the results of the study next week. According to a DES spokesperson, “The traffic study consists of collecting additional traffic volume, speed and pedestrian volume data to determine whether a four-way stop meets federal standards (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices).”
Parents are hopeful that the results next week indicate the need for increased safety measures, including a crossing guard. In the meantime, they’ve been taking turns positioning themselves at the crosswalk in the morning to make sure children get to school safely. They’ve also started an online petition requesting traffic calming measures, which has more than 400 signatures.
Parents are particularly worried about what happens when the volume of students increases upon completion of a new elementary school at the TJ site.
“The intersection at S. Irving & S. 2nd Street is a magnet for kids, bikers, walkers, etc. because there are currently three community attractions at this site — TJ Park, TJ Recreation Center, TJ Middle School and soon to be coming Fleet Elementary School,” said concerned parent and Arlington Heights resident Colleen Godbout. “This intersection needs calming measures immediately. We can not wait for the accident that is inevitable here.”
The Arlington County Fair will kick off on Wednesday, August 16 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road).
For the 41st year, the county will host a variety of events for the community, including live outdoor music, a parade, fairground rides and game, food, floral and craft competitions, pig races and more.
This year’s exhibit theme is “Let’s Play,” which organizers said celebrates the “child-like joy and fun that the Arlington County Fair brings out in all of us.”
The fair’s outdoor programming begins August 16, with indoor programming beginning on Friday, August 18. The event ends August 20, with outdoor activities concluding at 10 p.m. that day. More details about the indoor offerings will be available closer to the time.
The fair’s full opening hours are as follows:
The Kids’ Court, which has various activities including a moon bounce and face painting, will be open during the following hours:
- Friday 2-6 p.m.
- Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Competitive exhibits for participants to show off their abilities and compete for prizes include:
- Honey, Beeswax and Food Preservation
- Decorated Food Products and Baked Goods
- Art Needlework
- Crafts and Fine Arts
- Herbs, Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables
- Flowers, Arrangements and Potted Plants
Local organizations and business can sign up to participate in the fair’s parade, which is scheduled to start at the Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) on August 19 at 10 a.m. It will travel from the Career Center and end at the fairgrounds.
There is no on-site parking at the fair, and street parking is limited to residents with permits. There are several other transportation options, including shuttle buses from the Ballston and Pentagon City Metro stations, the Career Center and the I-66 parking garage at N. Quincy Street and 15th Street N.
The fair’s live outdoor music schedule is below, after the jump.
Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]
Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]
County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]
Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]
Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
The turf fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School are set to be replaced in the next year.
The Arlington County Board will vote Saturday (July 15) on a plan to replace the fields with synthetic turf. Staff from the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a report that the current fields are “worn beyond reasonable repair.”
For the past eight years, the turf fields at TJ have been used in the neighborhood and for scheduled use by affiliated sports leagues and school programs.
The upgrades at the field are part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program, aimed at replacing heavily-used natural grass fields. Currently, there are 15 synthetic turf fields in Arlington, although the move to add more has come in for some criticism from some.
In addition to the new turf, the fields would get new corner flags and goals for soccer games, as well as new bleachers.
The upgrades would coincide with the construction of the county’s new elementary school on the west end of the site, and staff said Arlington Public Schools will plan out activities with the two projects in mind.
APS will share the cost of the upgrades with the county. Just under $475,000 would be spent on the new field, with an extra $47,000 held as a contingency.