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Amna Khan – 2019 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award Winner Central Arkansas Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Amna Khan, age 15, a freshman at Little Rock Central High School, won the Soybean Science Challenge at the 2019 Central Arkansas Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock on March 1.

Amna Khan: Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, AR

Teacher: Ms. Kellie Chiu

Category: Energy and Transportation

Project Title: Doped carbon materials derived from biomass for super-capacitor applications.

Abstract: Herein, renewable resource-based waste materials (soybean and molasses) were utilized as inexpensive and renewable carbon sources to develop Phosphorous and Nitrogen co-doped Carbon (PNDC) materials for super-capacitor application. A prompt, low cost, single step, green and facile microwave assisted process was utilized to prepare PNDC materials by using the biomass. Concentration of the doping elements (P and N) was altered in the resulting PNDC materials by varying the mole ratio of soybean/molasses and ammonium polyphosphate (APP) in the reaction mixture. ALL served as the phosphorous and nitrogen source as well as the microwave absorber. Detailed characterization of all four PNDCS – two derived from molasses (MOLPNDCs) and two from soybean (SOYPNDCs) were performed to investigate their super-capacitor performance. The materials were characterized both physically via Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) METHOD, X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) analyses and electrochemically via cyclic voltammetry in both acidic (1 M H2SO4) and basic (6M KOH) media. Pore size, surface area, and elemental compositions of each PNDC was analyzed to investigate the critical parameter for super-capacitor performance of the materials. Among all PNDCs, MOLPNDC-1 exhibited exceptionally high specific capacitance values of 160 Fg-1 in 6M KOH electrolyte due to highly mesoporous structure and appropriate nitrogen content. MOLPNDC-1 was also found to be stable under continuous cycling for 1500 cycles in both acidic and alkaline conditions.


Amna Khan wins 2019 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award at Central Arkansas Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Amna Khan, age 15, a freshman at Central High School in Little Rock won the soybean Science Challenge at the 2019 science fair held at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, March 1.

Khan received a $300 cash award provided by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board at the awards ceremony. Her science project titled “Doped carbon materials derived from biomass for super-capacitor applications” also received second place in Energy and Transportation at the regional fair.

Khan will compete at the Arkansas State Science and Engineering Fair March 29. Kellie Chiu, Kahn’s teacher, won the $200 Soybean Science Challenge Teacher Mentor Award. Chiu stated that Khan actually chose to participate in the Soybean Science Challenge by herself, it was her own research and interest that led her to this award. “Amna has gained so much experience from this challenge. It strengthened her ability to analyze data and communicate findings,” said Chiu.

Khan was honored to receive the Soybean Science Challenge Award, “I am very glad that I contributed in the search of one more application of soybean product which is an alternative, inexpensive and ecofriendly solution to store energy. I know it is not easy to win this prestigious competition. I tried and worked hard, and am very thankful that my hard work was acknowledged and rewarded as regional winner of the Soybean Science Challenge,” she replied.

Mr. and Mrs. Moazzam Khan, Amna’ parents, were hoping and praying Amna would win since she had put a lot of effort and sweat into this project. “The real reward for us was to see Amna so happy and proud of her accomplishment!” they said. Kellie Chiu also acknowledged Amna’s dedication, “Amna is a remarkable student who worked very hard on this project. It is really exciting seeing students be acknowledged for work that is applicable to our society. I am excited to share her experiences with my other students.”

The part of the Soybean Science Challenge course that appealed most to Khan was the videos. They helped her to absorb information easily and made the course very interesting.

“I learned about the significance of soybeans by studying the different products made from soybeans. It was very informative to learn the nutritional value of soy and how important it is to a person’s health. I wish these videos could be shown in all Arkansas schools so students could understand the importance of soybeans in the state’s economy.”

Both Chiu and Amna’s parents agree that the Soybean Science Challenge made a big difference in Amna’s confidence in her research. “It is great to see Amna speak out about her research and I am happy to see her determination and handiwork being acknowledged.” said Chiu. “The SSC award made a huge impact on Amna’s self-assurance and she is eager to get back into the lab to continue work on her soybean project,” her parents remarked.

“The Soybean Science Challenge provides an opportunity for Arkansas High School students to participate in scientific research that can impact the state of Arkansas as well as the world. Soybean Science Challenge student researchers learn about this important commodity crop and its many uses including feeding the world, development of biofuels and sustainable products. The Soybean Science Challenge helps students develop an understanding of the challenges and complexities of modern farming,” said Dr. Julie Robinson, Assistant Professor and director of the program.

“The goal of the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge is to engage students in “real world” education to support soybean production and agricultural sustainability,” said Gary Sitzer a member of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. “The program also rewards scientific inquiry and discovery that supports the Arkansas Soybean Industry.”

The Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge was launched in January 2014 to 9-12th grade science students. Students who successfully completed the online course were eligible to have their original soybean-related research projects judged at the 2019 ISEF-affiliated Arkansas Science and Engineering Fairs.

Information on the 2019-2020 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge will be available in summer 2019. For more information, contact Dr. Julie Robinson at or Diedre Young at

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

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