By Keith Jones

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Spending time outdoors and caring for the environment led Lilly Thorpe to the idea for her fifth-grade science project. She’s now in middle school at  MAST Academy on Virginia Key.

“I’m in a club called Green Champions. We help out at school, recycling, the air committee and we compost. We help in the garden,” Lilly explained.

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When she learned of the differences in types of sunscreens, their effect and impact, that led to her project. She developed her hypothesis in comparing mineral and chemical sunscreens.

“I thought that the mineral sunscreen was going to work better than the chemical sunscreen because mineral sunscreen acts as a mirror,  you put it on your skin, so it reflects the UV rays off your skin where the chemical sunscreen gets absorbed into your skin and lets the UV rays go into your skin.”

Her is how she explained her procedures.

“I took a UV sensitive paper, I put it in a Ziploc bag and then I used circular metal stencil then filled it with different type of sunscreens.”

She exposed the samples outside for five minutes each, then tested the paper with lemon and water to rate the effectiveness. Not only was her hypothesis correct, but her project earned top honors.

“I got a good grade, and it was sent to the District, and I got first place over there.”

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Her good work and research included learning the effects of chemical sunscreen on marine life as well.

“The coral reefs are getting bleached by the sunscreens,” she said in learning about the reefs’ roles in the ocean.

A junior scientist and environmentalist, she works at removing harmful plastic and filaments and advocates using mineral sunscreens. She works both with the club at school and with a group she and her sister started. She is also an advocate for the mineral sunscreen.

“Whenever I see someone using chemical sunscreen, I tell them it’s bad for them,” she said.

What a great project. Congratulations Lilly!

If you or a student you know would like to enter our CBS4 Sunday Morning Science Lab contest, it is open to students in grade 3-8 who attend schools in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe Counties (including public, private, and home school. All kinds of STEM projects are accepted ranging from the environment to outer space, as long as its non-flammable.

Click here to enter and see all the rules.

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CBS Miami is accepting entries now through April.