The Home of Midwood Science Research

Ocean Science Team requires intense studying

Posted on Monday, February 2, 2015 by for Miscellaneous.

Ocean science is tougher than it seems. With multiple branches of science involved such as Physics, Biology, Environmental Science, Earth Science, and Astronomy, the Ocean Science Team is constantly studying and working hard. Their acquired knowledge is then shown in a regional competition in the late winter followed by national competition in the early spring if they place first in regionals.

The Ocean Science Team consists of many of the school’s top students from sophomores to seniors. Many of them have been on the team for two to three years now. The team looks for people who have an interest in science and who are up for a challenge. Mr. Alan Stack, coach of the team, created the team because the Bay Scallop Bowl caught his attention.

Students are invited to join based on how they can handle an abundant amount of work, their grades, and their attitude. Those who are interested in the team, but aren’t invited, may join as well by an interview with the coaches and a trial period. During the trial period they are with the team for a year and the coaches evaluate their progress on how well they handle the workload. One must be able to keep up with the material taught at the team meetings as well as schoolwork.

"This is a team that requires a lot of dedication and commitment," said Ms. Kimberly Lau, current assistant coach of the team.

The 2015 Midwood Ocean Science Team

The team meets up Tuesdays through Thursdays in room A215. The coaches provide them with different textbooks to cover the many areas of ocean science. During the meetings, team members self-teach and teach each other the material. They create outlines and study sheets based on the textbooks.

"I like how the club works," said Austin Siu ’16 a current member of the team. "Everyone is committed to what they’re doing and it makes me motivated to put in the same amount of effort.

In preparation for the Bay Scallop Bowl regional competition on February 7 at Stony Brook University, the team is working on questions provided by their coaches and vocabulary to test their knowledge. The competitions are a test of speed along with intelligence. They are having mock competitions against each other to see how fast their buzzing skills are and what they need to improve on.

"We try and practice buzzer sessions at least once a week and we have Ms. Lau and Mr. Stack constantly make up new questions for us to answer," said Helen Wong’15, team member for three years and current captain.

For the competition this year the team is split into two, team A and team B. For the first time a B team is created so newer teammates can experience the competition firsthand instead of watching from the crowd. There are four members on each team with one alternative team member each. They race against another team from a different school to see who buzzes in the correct answer first.

"During the competition, I would feel equal parts excited and apprehensive. There’s always a rush when you know the answer to a question and you beat the other team to the buzzer," Wong said.

Last year the Ocean Science Team placed fifth out of 16 schools in the regionals. This year, to improve in the competition, members are well rounded in their knowledge. They all keep up with the same material by reviewing weekly self-made outlines and textbooks together.

"This year instead of having students with different strong points, everyone is well rounded with what they know," Ms. Lau said.

First place in the regionals gives students a ticket to the national competition. First place in nationals gives the students a scholarship to a college with a marine science major. However, many students choose to stay on the team out of sincere interest, for a challenge, as well as to expand their comprehension of ocean science.

Written by Kelly Yuen
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 edition of Argus.

Hornet named Intel Semifinalist

Posted on Thursday, January 29, 2015 by for Intel STS, Media.

After 9 years of many hopeful attempts from past students, Charlynn Trish Ben ’15, emerged as the only semifinalist in all of Brooklyn for the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search (STS). Six other students including Monique Powell ’15, Taulant Kastrati ’15, Meghan Ng ’15, Zainab Iqbal ’15, Hillary Syeda ’15, and Dina Deng ’15 were awarded the 2015 Intel STS Research Report Award for presenting "a well-written, college-level, journal-style research report." Moreover, another student, Valeriya Falkovich ’15 received a Student Initiative Award for "exhibiting extraordinary effort and dedication in her pursuit of scientific research.”

"It’s about time," said Mr. Glenn Elert, one of the advisors for the Intel classes. "Charlynn definitely deserves this award. We were beginning to get discouraged because of the lack of feedback from Intel which prevented us from doing well."

Charlynn’s project, "A Shark Homolog of REV3, a DNA Translesion Polymerase" tested the polymerase zeta in the primary enzyme that is responsible for mutation in the shark gene. Along with her mentor, Dr. Ellen Hsu, they analyzed and studied the shark gene in order to create a unique sequence.

2015 Intel Semifinalist Charlynn Trish Ben

"I was able to clone the beginning and end of the sequence which is purely my own sequence," said Ben.

All students in Intel had to go through arduous preparation in order to ensure that they had prepared an excellent report. The Intel classes of Ms. Jennifer Sullivan, Mrs. Shaniece Mosley, and Mr. Elert spent the majority of their time working in various labs throughout NYC. Each student was guided by a knowledgeable and supportive mentor from colleges such as Brooklyn College, Long Island University (LIU), and SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

"My mentor, Dr. Frank W. Grasso helped me develop my project over the summer, along with my fellow senior researchers to create a unique experiment that would bring out the most important aspects," said Ng. "If I didn’t understand something, I would go to him and ask since he has years of experience."

These mentors helped them develop and carry out their scientific experiments. Instead of attending a ninth period class, students were expected to work in their labs for at least four hours every week. The time spent at these labs was crucial in further developing and improving their own experiments.

"My mentor is an intelligent and amazing woman," said Ben. "She certainly helped me in understanding the project because it was a topic that I had minimal knowledge of. She was hard on me sometimes but it made me want to work even harder for her and myself."

As a result, receiving such prestigious awards was an incredible moment for the mentors, advisors and students. To have been recognized for all the long days filled with hard work and the multiple

drafts that only ended up being edited really made it meaningful.

"The fact that I won the Research Report award makes all the time I spent on my paper and in the lab that much more memorable," said Powell. "I am extremely proud of all the other winners too, especially Char- lynn!"

Throughout the whole process, each student had an advisor who was there to check up on their work and

to offer suggestions and feedback. The advisors, Mrs. Sullivan, Mrs. Mosley and Mr. Elert understood that this was going to not only be frustrating, but would also require a lot of patience from the students.

"The process of the project was quite a long one," said Ben. "At times, I felt like quitting because the work would get very overwhelming and I barely had time for my studies. However, I felt that I had done so much work that it would be a waste to give up."

Mrs. Sullivan said, "I was Charlynn’s advisor and met with her 2 to 4 times a month to read over the various things she would be entering into competitions. She handed in her work to me, and I tried to edit it to the best of my ability."

Although this was an exhausting and long journey for the Intel students, those numerous hours and days were all worth it in the end.

"I feel accomplished," said Deng. "With the amount of effort I put into my project, it’s great to know it all paid off."

Written by Areeg Naeem
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 edition of Argus.

Midwood Science knows cold

Posted on Monday, January 26, 2015 by for Everyone.

Winters in Brooklyn are cold, but Midwood Science students know a much colder cold — liquid nitrogen. Nitrogen is the primary component of air. In its liquid phase it boils at −196 °C, just 77 degrees above absolute zero (77 kelvin). It’s hard to find anything colder than that. Pour it on the floor and it’s cold enough to make micro-clouds. Midwood Science seniors traditionally celebrate the end of the fall semester with 30 second liquid nitrogen ice cream and other cryogenic experiments like the one shown below. Because science is just that awesome.

A group of midwood Science students posing in a liquid nitrogen fog.

Charlynn Trish Ben and 7 Midwood students receive 2015 Intel STS awards

Posted on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by for Awards, Intel STS.

The Midwood Science Research Program is proud to announce that Charlynn Trish Ben is a Semifinalist in the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search (STS). Charlynn is the only semifinalist from a Brooklyn high school this year and the first Midwood student to win this award in 9 years. Intel STS Semifinalists represent the top 300 science research projects selected from more than 1,800 nationwide. Each semifinalist receives a $1,000 award from Intel with an additional $1,000 going to his or her school.

  • Charlynn Trish Ben
    Project: A Shark Homolog of REV3, a DNA Translesion Polymerase
    Mentors: Dr. Ellen Hsu and Mercedes Duran, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Six students also received the 2015 Intel STS Research Report Award for "a well-written, college-level, journal-style research report".

  • Monique Powell
    Project: Kinematics of the Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) During Courtship Rituals
    Mentors: Dr. Frank Grasso and Alphie Supan, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College
  • Meghan Ng
    Project: Direction of Gaze and Monk Parakeet Vocalization
    Mentor: Dr. Frank Grasso, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College
  • Taulant Kastrati
    Project: Monitoring the Effect of Guanidine Hydrochloride on the Folding of a Soluble Agglutinin-like Sequence Protein
    Mentor: Dr. Peter Lipke, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College
  • Zainab Iqbal
    Project: PTSD Symptoms, Aggression, and Crime Exposure in a Sample of Young Adults
    Mentor: Dr. Sara Chiara Haden, Department of Psychology, Long Island University
  • Syeda Hillary
    Project: Characterization of Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) Production, Secretion, and Target Cells for LIF within the Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) Niche
    Mentor: Dr. Christopher Lange, Department of Radiation Oncology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Dina Deng
    Project: Determining the Effectiveness of the Biomarker SSEA5 in the Enrichment of Endometrial Cancer Stem Cell Populations Using the Hybrid Spheroid Assay
    Mentor: Dr. Christopher Lange, Department of Radiation Oncology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center

One student received a Student Initiative Award for "exhibiting extraordinary effort and dedication in her pursuit of scientific research".

  • Valeriya Falkovich
    Project: Which Catalyst is Most Efficient for a PEMFC?
    Mentors: Dr. Sophia N. Suarez and David Cuffari, Department of Physics, Brooklyn College

Congratulations to Charlynn and the other seven winners.

Intel STS tee shirt

Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 by for Intel STS, Seniors.

The Society for Science and the Public sent me a Christmas gift. Did you get yours?

Register for St. Joe’s

Posted on Sunday, December 21, 2014 by for Seniors, St. Joseph's.

All seniors need to register for the High School Poster Session at St. Joseph’s College. You can do this before Winter Break (December 22 or 23, 2014) or on the first day after Winter break (January 5, 2015). I need to witness your registration for grading purposes. I am available periods 6–9 in the Research Room. Registration is easy. The hardest part is probably entering your project title (or maybe remembering your mentor’s email address). We will make posters during Regents week. The event is scheduled for Saturday, February 7, 2015.

The annual poster session provides an opportunity for talented high school students from the metropolitan area to compete and be recognized for their research accomplishments. This event is sponsored by The New York Section of the American Chemical Society and St. Joseph’s College. The program includes:

  • Judging of posters by scientists working in industry and academia
  • Guest speaker Carlo Yuvienco, Ph.D., Department of Physical Sciences, St. Joseph’s College
  • Certificates to all participants
  • Prizes to the four winning presenters

For more information on this event and its guest speakers, or to register, visit or contact Rhomesia Ramkellowan at or

Schedule 02/07/2015
09:00 09:30 AM   Arrival and setup
09:30 11:30 AM   Judging
11:30 12:30 PM   Guest speaker
12:30 01:00 PM   Awards

Dr. Carlo Yuvienco holds Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from New York University and a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. His research focus is currently the application of engineered protein constructs for drug delivery applications.

  • Title: Protein-based Drug Delivery Agents
  • Abstract: With the advancement of technologies to probe and manipulate biophysical matter, the scientific community continues to ever better engineer biological systems with the complexity and elegance in design that is necessary to address biomedical challenges. The growing maturity of the field of protein engineering is a testament to this proclamation.

2013 Published Papers

Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2014 by for Publications.

Student work published in print, on-line, or both.

NYCSEF paperwork delivered

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 by for NYCSEF, Seniors.

NYCSEF Paperwork Monday

Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014 by for NYCSEF, Seniors.

Seniors. We will be assembling paperwork for NYCSEF on Monday, December 15, 2014. Report to room 155 sometime between 12:30 and 2:30 PM. If you are free earlier, meet me in the Research Room. All copies will be made at this time using the school’s heavy duty photocopiers in room 156A across the hall. I will bring large envelopes, staples, binder clips, and labels. You will bring your completed paperwork including …

See you Monday.

Quest for lab frustrates

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 by for Media.

The worthiness of the Research Program is frequently questioned by freshman in the Medical Science Institute when choosing their required track; the Research Program is known for its academically challenging curriculum and the dedication required by its students.

The Research Program offers students the opportunity of working as interns in college laboratories under the mentorship of college professors starting junior year. The track offers the classes: Research Projects to sophomores, Junior Research to juniors and Senior Research to seniors. Research Projects dedicates the curriculum to prepare students for laboratory work, in which students will use during Junior Research, when they will complete research projects in college labs. Within Senior Research, in addition to continuing laboratory work, students will enroll into national and local competitions to showcase the results of their research projects.

Looking for labs is hard; its been months since I started looking for a lab, but I still haven’t gotten in one yet, Christine Ly 16 said.

College professors do not readily accept high school students into their labs because most juniors do not have lab experience; although the sophomore class, Research Projects, intends to expose students to various lab techniques such as DNA extraction in preparation for Junior Research.

I’ve been in a lab for about a month, Emily Hui 16 said, but my mentor still doesn’t trust me enough to give me a project.

Students within labs are required to conduct college level research, but some mentors do not readily give projects to inexperienced high school students.

Students work in labs of various fields such as biology, chemistry, engineering environmental, psychology, and physics. The majority of the labs that students attend are near the school, such as Brooklyn College and SUNY Downstate. Some labs require students to work on live specimens, such as mice.

According to Mr. Glenn Elert, approximately 40% of students do not continue into Senior Research due to various reasons, such as not finding a lab, not finding a suitable lab, or unable to complete or obtain a project.

Whenever I look at my completed project I feel satisfied, Mohammad Hasan 15 said. Seeing the results makes the hundreds of hours I spent in lab worth it.

Seniors within the Research Program typically completed at least one project, and they will enter their finished project within various national or local competitions.

Hasan noted, The Intel application contains many short responses, essays, and recommendation. Filling that long application takes weeks.

Seniors, in addition to the required 16 monthly lab hours, have to complete lengthy applications for various science competitions. The competitions that students attend typically are: Siemens Competition, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF), Intel Talent Search, St. Joseph’s College High School Poster Session, Google Science Fair, and Brooklyn College Science Day. Students within the past have won awards in various competitions.

Raymond Li 16 said, I applied for Robotics so I wouldn’t have to go to Research, its too much work!

To some students, other tracks such as Robotics and Medical Issues serve as alternatives to the academically intensive Research Track.

According to Mr. Elert many students take the Research Track because, when you make it to senior science research you have proved to the world that you have what it takes to succeed.

Despite the large amount of workload a researcher will face, many students continue to apply and finish the Research Track to prove their academic abilities.

Written by Victor Lee
Photo by Colleen Chasteau
This article originally appeared in the November 2014 edition of Argus.

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