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MARCH 2004

New York Academy of Science Sponsors Science Fair
by Adam Sugerman

The Great Hall at City College at 137th Street and Convent Avenue was buzzing with hundreds of students voices, judges listening to presentations at each exhibit, and students conferring with each other about their projects. Students were chosen randomly by this roving reporter to explain their hypotheses, their choice of project and their mentors.

Gregory Williams, President of CCNY addressed the group, congratulating them on their success in having been chosen to present their projects on this special day.

Farah Soha, grade 11, High School for Health Professions and Human Services, Manhattan. The Advocacy of Diagnostic Medical Tests for Deep Vein Thrombosis. The longer title is Is there a difference between dopler studies performed on an emergency basis and those performed during normal working hours. This study is actually testing the time differences of the daytime studies and the nighttime studies. My hypothesis was that daytime studies are better because we have better-trained personnel. Nighttime studies have a lot of people in training. They're good too but they're not good enough. The result was dependent on the people.

I was lucky in choosing this topic. In high school we had to do an internship and I chose to do it in a hospital because I want to become a doctor when I grow up. And I was actually looking for something in the schizophrenic area, but I couldnÕt find any recent studies so I was chosen for nuclear medicine and now that I actually know that nuclear medicine applies to all types of science–I really liked it–so I'm thinking of actually becoming a nuclear medicine physician. When I was there I had a mentor at Beth Israel Medical Center–I still have one–and he introduced me to many topics. I also have cousins who are doctors in Bangladesh.

Daniel LoFaso, Bayside High School, Queens. How Do Caved Fish Navigate around Various Materials? I was researching online and I found that cavefish have no eyes so I was wondering how they navigate. I found a few theories though no one is exactly sure. They use electric pulses, sound waves, and sensory organs in their skin. I took different material to test electric pulses and sound waves. I had wood to block the sound, plexiglass with drilled small holes, an aluminum foil sheet to conduct electricity and I saw how  these materials have an effect on the cave fish. I put the material on one side of the tank and the food on the other but they weren't really drawn to the food. After observing the cavefish, they appeared to just feel their way around because they stick to the bottom and the sides of the tank. The fish that did have eyes, that I used to compare, wouldn't go past the wood or aluminum because they didn't know if danger was on the other side and didn't want to risk it. My conclusion is that I believe the cavefish have a sensory organ in their skin that they use to feel their way around. Originally I was going to do this at school but I did it all at my house. My Uncle gave me a couple of tanks and filters.

Pres. Gregory Williams, CCNY: This is the eighth year we are holding this event and we're really excited. It's so great to see all these kids who have so much interest in science, and we think that's so consistent with what we're trying to do, to develop the science and engineering programs here at City College. In fact, the governor has endorsed that recently. In the governor's budget, Phase I project for the science building here, we're going to have a science center and an advanced science center which are budgeted for around 180 million dollars. That's a huge investment in science at City College and we're very pleased about it. We have eight members of the National Academy of Sciences on our City College Campus. The engineering school is one of the best in the nation and the only public school of engineering in the Metropolitan region. What I'm most excited about is that our research has increased and gone up 50 percent in the last couple of years totaling over 47 million dollars. We'll be able to provide an incredible undergraduate research program. Currently we have the largest in the metropolitan area. I'm truly excited about being able to see undergraduate students working with senior professors on substantial scientific projects–and building an interest in science at the very basic level. These students are going to go on and get their Master's degrees and Ph.D.'s, so we are really building a pipeline. Since we're a majority-minority institution, we are putting students of color in the pipeline of science and engineering in a way that very few other schools in the country are doing. This will truly be a great science center in New York City.

Shante Freckelton, Grade 12, St. Francis Preparatory High School, Fresh Meadows, Queens. What I did first was start looking at articles that focused on post-partum depression and from there I found my question, Does the Lack of Awareness of Post-Partum Depression Correlate to Treatment-seeking among Women? With that, I developed a survey with my mentor–Dr. Sheila Marcus at the University of Michigan. I read one of her articles and contacted her. With that we developed an eight-question survey. We found that most women felt that they received enough information but they just didn't understand that information and that affected them in seeking their treatment. We found that most women weren't likely to seek treatment. They wanted to solve it on their own. Patients weren't hearing about the treatments that are out there and so they were more prone to develop into the further stages of post-partum depression.

Physicians need to be educated. They need to know that this is out here and they need to alert their patients to all the treatments that are available. With that women are more likely to go to their physicians and say, "I heard about this treatment and I want to know how this can help me." When I was a sophomore, my cousin had a baby the year before and she was experiencing "baby blues," not as serious as post-partum depression, but with that I started looking into articles and I found that this question wasn't being answered and that this might be prevalent in why women aren't seeking the treatment.

I'd like to become an obstetrician and deliver babies so this plays into it. As an obstetrician I can help my patients learn about the treatment.

Judge: Giselle Nakhid, Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn: science teacher. I have been judging for 8 to 10 years. The presentations are drastically different today from what they used to be. The work has more emphasis on what they're doing, more thought, more in-depth. I am really proud of these kids. They have really put their hearts and souls into it. Certainly computers and technology have played a role as well as outside effort put into it, apart from classroom time. The display boards are fabulous and captivating.

Ellis Rubenstein, CEO, New York Academy of Sciences and former editor of the journal Science shared some thoughts with the group. Science fairs can produce great interest for students even if they're not science majors. Students should be a beacon for intelligence for issues in science, issues like stem cell research. We have to be able to make intelligent choices. New York City is a mecca for science education.

Jesse Siegel, Colin Van Heyningen and Gabriel Lutz, 10th grade, Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn. Their project is Earthworm Regeneration. First we did a project with mice but that wasn't so successful so we decided if we could find a supplement to help earthworms regenerate fast, it would oxygenate the soil because when earthworms go through soil, they create tunnels and oxygenate to help flowers grow better. If we found a supplement to help them regenerate faster then it could potentially help people with their garden.

We thought about what would help humans and our skin, if we were in an accident or something, so we were fascinated in using things like zinc and iron on the earthworms. Worms are more genetically similar to us than most people would think. We cut off the tail and mixed with worm food, we put vitamin supplements. We had a supply of 50 worms that we monitored for over a week. We found that zinc was the best alone in regenerating the worms fastest. Miss Issacson, our science research advanced teacher, was a mentor, and she supplied us with our materials. We would possibly plan on entering this competition next year. Not sure yet about what we want to do in the future with science.

Bojan Djordjevic, 9th Grade, Francis Lewis High School, Queens. How Can Hydrogen Be Recycled to Be More Cost Effective? I studied the research done by Sir Williams Grove who invented the fuel cells and I found out that his original idea was to electrocute water in order to separate it into hydrogen and oxygen. I thought if we could recycle the fuel cell waste by doing this, then we could make the environment cleaner at a lesser cost. My science teacher, Dr. Marmur, was my mentor. He helped a lot in checking my work, in giving me resources, and just helping me to find more information. I made the graphs by myself with computer software, fireworks. My hypothesis was right: if the fuel cell is recycled, it will last longer and use less fuel and would be a better choice over the internal combustion engine.

This data and this technology can be implemented and used in other technology such as air conditioners and heaters. It could help the environment and keep the fossil fuels up to benefit the earth. I want to go into pre-med and to also see if I could go farther with my research on this topic. I would be the first in my family to go into science.

Julanny Acevedo, Francis Lewis High School, Queens. Gender Differences and Accepting Parental Divorce. I've always been interested in divorce because I've seen some of my family members be affected by it. I found that boys are affected more negatively by divorce than girls are. It also depends on the age. Pre-school to teenaged boys are most affected. Boys are taught not to express their sorrow so they are not cushioned like the girls are. They become aggressive and have more behavioral problems, worse social skills. Girls who tend to have a close relationship with their moms and don't mind as much, they also have a better support system. I did it all on my own.

Melissa Lee, Bronx High School of Science, 11th Grade. Fractal Dimension of Cells. I'm really interested in math and biology so I wanted to find something that was connected. I found out that if the cells get higher, more likely it's cancerous. I found out that if you compare them to other cancerous cells, it's more cancerous as fractols get higher. You can't really find out if the cell is cancerous until it starts mutating. But if you were to maybe apply this method, you could find out that it might be cancer sooner. My math teacher, Mr. Magma, helped me. I want to be a pediatrician when I grow up.

Elahd Bar-Shai & Amitai Cohen-Halberstam, 12th Grade, Solomon Schechter HS of NY. Fabrication of Uhralong Metallized Nanowires for Nanoelectric Applications. Working through science papers and research articles sparked our interest. We wanted to be part of something new and that we know will have applications for the future. We found the professor's website and now are working in his lab at Hunter College. We go there regularly, we work with graduate students as well as the professor. His name is Dr. Hiroshi Matsui. He is excited about our project and we're planning to submit it for publication.

Judge: Mr. Benjamin Jansen, Office of Naval Research, Newport, RI. I think there's some remarkable work here at the high school level. I'm happy to see the kids are nervous because if they're nervous then they're taking it seriously. I think it's fantastic that they're as much involved in it as those of us who do it professionally. One of the students' projects I just saw is at the caliber of what I do on a daily basis–I'm very impressed.



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