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Researching Science Research

By Gordon Mun

New Hyde Park Memorial’s Science Research program provides its students with a range of opportunities, mostly in the scientific field. The students arrive each day for the zero period class taught by science teacher Ms. Stone.

“Beyond looking for the traditional characteristics—high academic achievement, determined and motivated—we are also looking for students who are independently motivated to learn and study on their own,” Science Research teacher Ms. Stone said.

There is an application process that all interested students must go through to be selected for the program. Students must have two letters of recommendation and their transcript with the necessary grades. The program usually begins with eighth grade students, so seventh grade students must maintain grades above 90 in science, math and English to demonstrate their problem solving and writing skills. In addition, prospective students participate in an interview to gauge their communication abilities and agility to respond. Although the program typically starts with students in eighth grade, upperclassmen can still apply.

The application process is one example of how the Science Research program is not an ordinary class. Rather, it is a class oriented around the progress of an individual science project, with respective assignments like article analyses and presentations. Science Research is a class that provides opportunities outside of school, such as local competitions and laboratories. This unique style in grading and focus on projects is a quality that has attracted many of its students.

“I think that projects in Science Research are different from all other activities in the school because you are given free rein to look into your interests. It gives good foundations in scientific skills and lets people who are bored of tests stretch their creative wings,” junior Mathew Roshan said.

The main goals for students of the program each school year is to complete a science project relating to current issues and compete at science fairs. In addition to the annual science fairs, students can participate in other competitions in different subject areas. For example, Long Island Water Quality requires students to develop a proposal to protect local and critical water resources along with their own school grounds. A group of seniors - Sahara John, Aditi Kaur, Priya Persaud, Isabella Prada and Christina Wilson - won the grant to implement their proposal in the coming years.

“We won $2,500 to implement our plan ‘Go Green’ to promote gardening, restoring and educating throughout the school community. We were basically gonna build boxes where little kids were going to garden in the courtyard like a community garden for extra credit in science classes, and the vegetables were going to be used for the cafeteria,” senior Isabella Prada said.

Medical Marvels is another competition where students are given a hypothetical situation and a current issue to come up with a solution for. This year, the issue is climate change, where students were tasked to imagine themselves as a superintendent and develop ways to reduce carbon emissions.

"Our class is trying to promote sustainability and reduce greenhouse emissions from the district, to reduce pollution in the environment. This competition tests our problem-solving skills and lets us make creative plans to help reduce the emissions of these harmful greenhouse gasses,” sophomore Oishik Saha said.

“The Medical Marvels competition is challenging as you have to put all your effort into your proposal and your infographic. As the teams all over the island and beyond are participating, you have to do all you can in order to win. This competition, as it grows even further in the future, can provide a start for a child’s interest or career in science,” sophomore Vishnu Suresh said.

“This is my first time doing Medical Marvels in Science Research, but the topic we have this year, climate change, is a topic I know well because I had done a whole project on it in eighth grade,” sophomore Aaron Koshy said. “My partner and I came up with a solid plan, and we hope to present it to the officials at the competition. Overall, Medical Marvels is definitely a great way to get young students thinking about enduring issues that are currently happening in our world and creating a sort of realistic solution to the problems.”

“For this [Medical Marvels] competition, I feel like there is a lot of competition but, I feel like me and my partner will be doing the best and hopefully, win a prize. Climate change has been an issue for many years, and if the problem is fixed not just on one area, but the entire world, the future will be a lot better than what it is right now,” sophomore Naman Maniar said.

Ultimately, the goal for all Science Research students is to obtain a mentored position in a professional laboratory by the summer of students’ junior year. This past summer, several students were able to participate in a spectrum of prestigious programs. Some are even continuing their work throughout the school year.

“I was in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Human Oncology & Pathogenesis Program over the summer. Essentially, I characterized the top TP53 hotspot mutations in colorectal cancer. I enjoyed the experience! I loved making new friends and experiencing the joy of scientific discoveries,” senior Priya Persaud said.

“Over the summer, I attended Feinstein everyday and was conducting gastrointestinal research and real benchwork. Now that I’m going once a week, I’m mainly in the process of writing and editing abstracts along with other papers for publication,” senior Sahara John said.

“At Brown, I studied quantum computing and mechanics (AKA Quantum Physics I),” junior Fred Han said. “With my CCIR project, I’m working on a model for safer Bluetooth communications with a centralized server.”

“The first class I took at the Columbia SHP was astronomy and astrophysics with Dr. James Applegate. We discussed everything from atomic physics to cosmology over a Zoom meeting, though we will be in-person starting in January. I am grateful to be able to meet with like-minded people and discuss science and math with great vigor and interest, even if it was remotely,” junior Guranaad Kaur said.

Dr. Richard Faccio and Science Research students junior Fred Han, seniors Nidhi Parikh, Sahara John, Christina Wilson, Elizabeth George, Kushpreet Ahuja, junior Guranaad Kaur, seniors Priya Persaud, Isabella Prada, and their adviser Ms. Angela Stone stand in commendation for the students' efforts in their respective research in their summer programs.

Currently, students are awaiting materials to arrive for their science fair projects. They are obtaining and assembling info from various articles and revising their research plans. The biggest hope this year is to finally have an in-person science fair, which have been turned virtual due to COVID-19 precautions.

“We’re all so excited to be able to partake in multiple in-person fairs this school year! Especially after the last three years where the most we’d be able to do were virtual fairs and competitions,” junior Chesna Chummar said.

“I think that in-person science fairs will be more interesting because in the past, we only sent a video, and there is only so much you can convey in a video. To add on, when we are in-person, the judges are able to ask you questions, which will give us a better perspective on our project,” senior Paul Wang said.

The Science Research program is constantly expanding and improving, and it will continue to be a program that may develop many students’ passion for the sciences and further their scientific careers.


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