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Ocean Science buzzes its way to the top

Posted on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by for Media, Ocean Science.

2016 Bay Scallop Bowl logo

First place went to Midwood’s Ocean Science Team at the 2016 Bay Scallop Bowl administered by Stony Brook University on Saturday, March 5.

Every year, 16 teams from across the state participate at this regional competition of the National Ocean Science Bowl sponsored chiefly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Simply put, teams of four players compete against one another in rounds structured around two "team challenge questions" sandwiched at the beginning and end by a 6 minute round of buzzer questions. During the buzzer round, multiple-choice toss-up questions are read until a team answers one correctly. That team can then collaborate on a short answer bonus question to score additional points. Team challenges are timed worksheets that require all four players to cooperate and think critically to answer the prompts. The team with the most points at the end of the final buzzer round wins.

The day began at 15 minutes before six in the morning at Midwood on Saturday for the coaches, competitors, and spectators as they boarded the bus to Long Island.

"Midwood has sent a team to the Bay Scallop Bowl for seven years with nothing higher than last year’s third place finish, but I have a gut feeling this year is going to make Midwood history," said A-Team coach Mr. Alan Stack.

Group photo
Bart Rosenzweig, Samuel Makarovskiy, Joseph Parziale, Andrew Li, Austin Siu

This year Midwood, once again, had the opportunity to bring an A- and a B-Team to compete.

"Having a B-Team gives the underclassmen a chance to experience the competition and work through their nerves, so they don’t have to go in blind when they compete for the win next year," said A-Team Captain Andrew Li ’16.

Following a complimentary breakfast and guest speakers, the "group stage" that determined seeding began. In the first round, Midwood’s A-Team faced St. Ann’s who had knocked out Midwood and won it all two years prior.

This year, the Hornets would have none of it. Quick buzzing left St. Ann’s in the dust as A-Team racked up a 98-48 victory.

"Their captain had his face in his hands by the end of the match from being beaten to the buzz on nearly every question," said Mr. Stack with a smile.

B-Team faced a quick buzzing team of its own in Commack but still pulled out a win of 74–58.

In the second round, it was Midwood vs. Midwood, which was the friendliest competition either team faced that day. A-Team and B-Team coaches Mr. Stack and Ms. Kimberly Lau shook hands cheerfully, and the round was off. The A-Team quickly took control and won comfortably 114–17. Nonetheless everyone was all smiles.

Midwood's A-Team on stage

Round 3 pitted the A-Team against Commack and the B-Team against St. Ann’s. The A-Team won convincingly 105–52 by the end despite the shocking speed of Commack’s player 3 and some close calls earlier in the match. The B-Team had it tougher facing St. Ann’s and was down by 18 before the final buzzer round. Then B-Team turned it up and began to interrupt with confidence. They clinched the round 60–53 with a final interrupt and bonus with under ten seconds remaining.

"It was a frenzy. We just answered what we knew," continued B-Team co-Captain Allan Nosov ’17, "Luckily, victory was in the forecast."

That marked the end of group stages with the A-Team sitting at 3–0 and B-Team at 2–1. Following lunch, the A-Team was seeded second and set to face 15 seed Bellport.

The A-Team had trouble early on against the underdog Bellport and was only up by four points after the team challenges. Fortunately, in the final buzzer round the Hornets pulled through and won comfortably 73–36.

"Incorrect interrupts almost cost us there, and although we won, it should have been much cleaner," said Li nervously.

However, the real story was when the seventh seed B-Team was set to face the tenth seed Stuyvesant in Round 4. This was higher stakes than usual because it was single elimination, so a loss here meant a team would be booted from competition. Despite giving it their all, the B-Team fell to Stuyvesant by just over 10 points leaving the remaining eight teams in a double elimination tournament.

Samuel Makarovskiy and Andrew Li holding trophy
Samuel Makarovskiy and Andrew Li

"We were tied before the team challenges, we fell behind afterward, and unfortunately Stuy beat us in on the buzz in the final round," said B-Team player Anne Wang ’17.

"Although, I’m disappointed to lose," stated B-Team Co-Captain Jennifer Phu ’17. "Today made me want to place higher when we come back next year."

As luck would have it, the A-Team would face Stuyvesant in Round 5. The A-Team gritted their teeth for a grudge match but led handily early on keeping Stuyvesant to zero until the team challenges. By the end, Midwood won 102–40.

"That wasn’t too bad because we focus exclusively on ocean science," explained A-Team player Bart Rosenzweig ’16, "But their team was visibly just a general science team which gave us the edge."

Round 6 was the winners’ bracket semifinal, and the A-Team won without a hitch against Woodlands 90–28. Rosenzweig stunned the judges by answering a multiple-choice question on taxonomy verbatim before any choices were read.

Round 7 pitted Midwood against the first seed, host, and returning champion Mount Sinai. There was a crowd of Midwood and Mount Sinai spectators watching this winner’s bracket final that pitted two undefeated Goliaths against each other (figuratively of course, because we’re nerds after all). It was tied at 24 following the first toss up round, but the Hornets trailed at the end of the two team challenges. It was close when the Hornets came to within 6 halfway through the final buzzer round, but an interrupt cost them four points. They fell 57–71.

"We tried hard, but we could’ve been faster," remarked A-Team player Joseph Parziale ’16, "It’s not over yet."

This defeat left Mount Sinai in the grand finals undefeated to face the winner of the losers’ bracket finals. There, in Round 8, Midwood faced Stuyvesant for a rematch. It went the same as the first matc — the A-Team picked up points left and right leading the whole way through, winning by over 30 points.

"That loss could’ve demoralized us, but instead we powered on and got our momentum back," exclaimed A-Team alternate Austin Siu ’16.

That left Midwood with one loss versus undefeated Mount Sinai in Round 9. The Hornets needed to win twice in a row to win it all — no small task.

"Let’s go meet our maker," said Rosenzweig nearly with a straight face.

Coach Lau holding fish-shaped balloon in one hand and trophy in another
Coach Lau

Then they were off. The first buzzer round was a blur, but by the end of it Midwood led by nearly 20 points. Despite taking a net point loss from the team challenge questions, Midwood outpaced Mount Sinai in the final buzzer round and won 87–57.

"The pro-Sinai crowd was shocked silent, and I knew the guys could do it!" cheered Ms. Lau.

Before the final round, at well past six in the evening, Mr. Stack simply said, "You did it once. They’re demoralized. Go out there and show them what you can really do."

At the outset, things looked grim. The A-Team was down 0–20 midway through the buzzer round but managed to scrape back to 14–24 by the end of the round. The challenges came, and Li said he didn’t feel at all confident. After the first challenge scores Midwood was down by 16 points, and the boys in blue sunk in their chairs.

"We knew the second even less than we knew the first," said Parziale grimacing.

To the team’s surprise, Midwood scored four more than Mount Sinai. Then down by 12, the Hornets were back in the game.

"I saw them jump to attention in their seats when they saw the scores, and I knew they were back in it," said spectator Michelle Do ’16.

The six minutes began to tick down. Midwood buzzed in correctly and converted a bonus to a come back at 38–40. Then Sinai lengthened their lead to 44–38. Midwood seized the lead for the first time with another toss-up and bonus conversion making the score 48–44, but Sinai quickly tied with two minutes left.

"They were neck-and-neck, and there were less than two minutes left," said Ms. Lau, "My eyes were glued to the stage, and my nails were clawed into my chair. I can only imagine how the guys on stage were feeling."

After a few incorrect responses on both sides, Midwood broke the tenuous tie and took a 52–48 lead with only 30 seconds left. Mount Sinai needed one question to tie and could win with a bonus.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl logo

The moderator began to read. It was about the Portuguese man o’ war’s anatomy. The reader got to the second choice. There was a buzz, interrupt, recognition, an answer and silence. Time was at five seconds. The reader looked down at the screen. He looked back up and said, "INCORRECT." There was a hush in the crowd. Minus four from Mount Sinai. Mr. Stack threw his hands into the air. Mount Sinai’s player 1 held his head in his hands. Time ran out. Midwood got a full reread and answered correctly. There was applause. The bonus question was foregone. The reader kept reading, but time was out. The time keeper yelled, "GAME." It was Sinai–44 and Midwood–56.

"There it was. Midwood had won, and I couldn’t believe it," gasped Ms. Lau, "I had to wait for the announcer to be sure."

"These guys put in years of work and it paid off in full," said spectator, alumnus, and former Captain Helen Wong ’15.

The next stop for Midwood is National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Morehead City, North Carolina in late April.

"I knew they could do it," concluded Mr. Stack. "I couldn’t be happier for them and what their victory will mean for the school for years to come."

Written by Samuel Makarovskiy (Class of 2016).
A redacted version of this article appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Students take on Math Challenge

Posted on Saturday, March 5, 2016 by for Media, Miscellaneous.

Scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 will be awarded to the victors of the 2016 Moody’s Mega Math Challenge. Ten Midwood students competed nationally against other high schools in two teams of five, held on February 27 and 28.

Annually, Moody’s Mega Math Challenge (also known as the M3) organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) tests the intelligence and creativity of high school juniors and seniors. Each high school can have two teams of three to five students who solve a task that challenges their knowledge in applied mathematics. The team has 14 consecutive hours to submit a solution electronically. The papers of the top six teams are posted on the M3 website, each receiving prizes, in which the first place team receives $20,000. The top six finalist teams in the Challenge will be invited to Moody’s Corporation headquarters in Manhattan to present their papers for the final confirmation phase of judging.

Logo banner

"The M3 Challenge allows students a chance to experience a timely and relevant challenge that requires mathematical modeling and analysis to find a solution," said Ms. Linda Grabowski, the teacher coach for this challenge. "It helps promote STEM education and shows the value of math to solve problems like this. It enables students to experience the challenges that an applied mathematician or someone in a related career choice might face."

This year’s task was focused on car sharing companies and their potential profits, such as Zipcar and Uber. The team members had to generate mathematical and logistical models to present their solution.

Midwood’s first team was made up of seniors Irla Belli, Zhivko Evtimov, Boris Arbuzov, Elizabeth Krazner, and junior Michael Grandel. The second team was made up of juniors Zainab Jamil, Elizabeth Skapley, Jennifer Phu, Nomon Mohammad, and Zainab Salahudin.

Both teams had a similar opinion about the problem, which was deemed to be abstract and diverted from past examples. For example, the 2015 question dealt with college tuition and future success, and the 2014 question dealt with lunch cost and nutrition values.

"I thought that the challenge was very thought provoking and allowed for many theoretical analyses to be made," said Belli. "However, it really tested our capabilities since there was less conventional math involved than we hoped. Since that was the case, we were somewhat caught off guard by the challenge but attempted to seize the moment and work together to produce a solution paper. We approached the problem logically while staying in Starbucks for 11 hours and then going to a friend’s house for the remaining three hours."

These real world problems are normally tackled by experienced applied mathematicians, but this competition presents these problems to students who are expected to provide a solution in 14 hours. This requires versatility from the competitors that is normally present in the mathematicians. Therefore, the inexperience of the competitors promotes dilemmas within the group.

Ms. Grabowski said, "The M3 challenge promotes team-work and brainstorming to come up with many ideas and concepts, but the group has to come to an agreement on one method of attack for their shared solution within the time allocated."

Arbuzov confirmed this, revealing the issues his team faced. He said, "In my opinion, a big issue was a lack of direction from the group. Being previously unexposed to such problems, we struggled to figure out a set plan. This lead to confusion within the group about what we were researching and disagreements of approach. Overall, this culminated in a large loss of time."

The math challenge can also be a representation of how high school prepares their students for the real world. This math challenge exemplifies the high school educational system based on how malleable the students are when it comes to applying what they’ve learned. The competitors from Midwood seem to have contradicting views as to how Midwood’s curriculum prepares them for these situations.

"Midwood prepared us because of the tasks that we do in our classrooms," said Salahudin. "We were taught how to effectively manage our time while working cooperatively with our team. Our end results incorporate our hard work and ideas that came from everyone in the group."

Some students thought otherwise. For example, Evtimov said. "After participating in the challenge, I believe Midwood does not prepare students well enough to survive in real world occupations. Our curriculum is based on the New York State Regents exams, Common Core agenda and the AP exams. None of the classes actually helped us approach this question."

Written by Michael Grandel and Olga Savuk (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Research students thrive at JSHS competition

Posted on Saturday, March 5, 2016 by for JSHS, Media.

Seniors have once again taken the annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) competition by storm.

Both Kai Saunders ’16 and Josh Pilipovsky ’16 were recognized for their outstanding work and represented our school with prestige. With 11Midwood students entered into this competition, seven of them made it to the finals round. Pilipovsky ’16 went ahead and won third place in the Physics category while Saunders ’16 was a finalist and won first in the Chemistry category.

JSHS is a competition which focuses around STEM in grades 9–12 but Midwood has decided to only enter seniors. Entrants must comprise a project with the help of their mentor and supervising research teacher. Individuals then compete in JSHS for scholarships and recognition by presenting to a panel of judges and an audience of peers.

Group Photo
Midwood’s 7 JSHS Semifinalists: Kieran Bissessar, Joshua Pilipovsky, Nga Ying Lo, Victor Lee, Kai Saunders, Quetourah Dalencourt, Christine Ly

These top students had the help of their science research teachers who include Mr. Glenn Elert, the Research Coordinator and physics teacher, Ms. Shaniece Mosley, chemistry teacher, and Ms. Jennifer Sullivan, biology teacher. All three teachers have an immense amount of knowledge in their field of study and can provide students with insight that will lead them to success.

The process of choosing eleven students out of the entire senior research class was long and demanding. Students were chosen to represent Midwood by having intricate and well-designed projects.

"The best projects balance background research with laboratory skills." stated Mr. Elert.

Portrait of Kai Saunders outdoors
Kai Saunders will represent NYC at the National JSHS in April

Saunders ’16 project regarding the study of heavy metal content of artifacts found in urban soil helped her not only advance to the National JSHS but also expand her knowledge about the environment itself.

Students could not have completed these intricate projects without the help of their laboratory mentors.

Kieran Bissessar ’16 said that his project would have gotten nowhere without his mentor, Dr. Donald Gerber from the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, as he is very knowledgeable. Research students are allowed to intern at any location most suitable for them and favorable for their field of study. Colleges that many of the seniors participate at include but are not limited to Brooklyn College, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and NYU.

Individuals had access to immense amount of information provided by both their mentors and the research teachers. Even when Ms. Mosley is not familiar with the topic that a student is researching, she still manages to aid them in the process of perfecting their research.

Written by Abeer Naeem and Clifford Young (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Hornet demonstrates outstanding qualities

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

From being a member of Robotics’ Bötley Crüe to editor of Argus, to participating in the Red Cross and Glee clubs, Midwood’s Quetourah Dalencourt ’16 is a prime example of Midwood’s finest.

Dalencourt started her Midwood experience in the Liberal Arts program and worked her way up to the Medical Science program, participating in many extra-curriculars and advanced classes. Dalencourt was originally set to attend Aviation High School in Queens, but her love for the Medical Science program made her apply here, but the only spots available were in the Liberal Arts program.

"I was supposed to go to this Aviation High School in Queens, but I really didn’t want to go," said Dalencourt "It’s a good school, but Midwood was my first choice school because I really loved Med-Sci, but there was no space. So I just joined as LASI and switched."

Portrait of Quetourah seated

Dalencourt participates in the Red Cross Club, Glee Club, Robotics’ Bötley Crüe and is an editor for Argus, along with starting her own Computer Coding Club.

"I joined these clubs because they are just things that I really enjoy doing," said Dalencourt "Like when I first started journalism, I was wondering why I was in the class, but once we learned about layouts and everything, I thought it was cool and definitely something that I could do."

Dalencourt also does undergraduate research at NYU as a part of the Midwood Science Research program.

Dalencourt has always had a passion for volunteer work and helping people, which is why she was thrilled at the Red Cross Club starting in Midwood.

"I was so excited when the Red Cross Club started because the work that they do is really amazing, and I try my best to attend the events," said Dalencourt.

Dalencourt joined the robotics team as a programmer because of her love for computer programming. She was asked to join the team as a programmer despite not taking the required robotics and mechatronics courses.

"I started the coding club because when I began coding I wanted to meet other programmers. Since Midwood didn’t have one, I decided to make my own," said Dalencourt "I met a lot of kids that I didn’t even know were interested in computer science."

Dalencourt plans to double major in computer science and business administration, but also wants to do volunteer work.

"I think it’s really great and important to help people, so it’s something that I really want to do," said Dalencourt "I also want to travel the world, especially to Tokyo because they are really tech savvy and the technology they have there is really great."

She is also a part of the team that works on the yearbook.

"It’s really great because I get a sneak peek at everything that’s going to be in it," said Dalencourt. "We all work together as a team to create the best yearbook possible."

Dalencourt has been a member of Glee club since freshman year.

"Glee club is a lot of fun and I made a ton of great friends," said Dalencourt.

Dalencourt encourages students to participate in extracurricular activities.

"I think anyone can join any club If there is something that you like to do, join the club for it If there is no club for it, then make the club," said Dalencourt. "You get to meet new people who enjoy doing the same thing, and you get to learn from them which is pretty awesome."

Written by Kaelah Blanchette (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of Argus.

Urooj Ansari appears on GMA with Bill and Melinda Gates

Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 by for Media.

Midwood Science student Urooj Ansari appeared on the ABC News television program Good Morning America (GMA) Wednesday, February 24 alongside the billionaire philanthropist couple Bill and Melinda Gates. The Gates family set out their goals for 2016 in an open letter. This year’s inspiration came from a group of high school students in Kentucky. "If you could have one superpower, what would it be?" Melinda and Bill replied, "More time" and "More energy".

We are dedicating this year’s letter to talking about the opportunities we see to overcome these often overlooked challenges. We’re writing to high school students because you’re the ones who will ultimately be solving these problems. (Our interests in time and energy are separate from our foundation’s work on health and poverty. But it’s all related. Solving these problems will make it easier to save lives and make the world a more equitable place.)

Urooj was selected by the New York Academy of Science to appear with the Gateses on GMA for her work with the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures program under their Global STEM Alliance.

Urooj Ansari is doing incredibly well in the program and has become an example mentee for our students. Urooj might be a great voice for our program and will be able to serve as a pillar of encouragement to other younger students….

Group photo from the GMA website showing students with Bill and Melinda Gates and GMA host Robin Roberts
Midwood Science student Urooj Ansari (more or less in the center at sixth from left) with Bill and Melinda Gates, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, and other students representing the New York Academy of Science.

Rolling Drones and Bötley Crüe move on to Regionals

Posted on Monday, February 22, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

Bötley Crüe and Rolling Drones won first place at the FTC East Flatbush Qualifier that took place at Tilden High School on February 6, 2016.

Rolling Drones and Bötley Crüe received the Winning Alliance Award. Bötley Crüe won the Rockwell Collins Award for bringing great ideas from concept to reality and for the most innovative and creative robot design solution to any or all specific field elements or components in the First Tech Challenge. Pink Droyd came in third and did not qualify.

"They performed very well at the Qualifier despite having multiple difficulties," said Mr. Cameron Jahn "With the help of Bötley Crüe, they pulled off a decisive victory."

All three teams meet during their AutoCAD class led by Mr. Cameron Jahn and Ms. Lisa Ali.

Team captains include Ihor Bakhnak ’16 of Rolling Drones, Victoria Gnip ’16 of Bötley Crüe and Adam Abdelhadi ’16 of Pink Droyd. Each team consists of 12 players Each member — builder, driver, field manager — plays an important role.

Overview of the cometition space

The challenge, called Res-Q, is based off of rescue situations faced by mountain explorer. The teams’ robots must fit in an 18-inch cube, and must meet all the requirements stated in the FTC Game Manual.

"We’ve been preparing for the competition since September," said Bakhnak. "We transformed the classroom to mimic the same exact playing field as in the competitions, and worked very hard on the things that would allow us to score points at the competition."

In the game, the field is divided into two sides with two mountains on each side and debris on the field (50 blocks 2-inch squares and 30 balls 2.8-inches in diameter). There are four teams on the field, two from each alliance. Teams can earn 20 points per side by resetting Rescue Beacons, 10 points per climber by delivering Climbers to a Shelter, 5 points for parking in the Rescue Beacon Repair Zone, Floor Goal or being parked on the Mountain and Touching the Floor, and 10, 20, or 40 points for parking on the Mountain in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively.

"We start by brainstorming ideas and designs," said Rolling Drones builder Abdul Ali ’16 "Then we start building prototypes and test them eventually we find a design we think will work. We start building and writing the program and once we’re done, we practice and edit the robot’s features."

Pink Droyd Constructor Mohammad Khalid ’16 said, "My team and I began slowly and as the competition gradually came closer, we started expanding our ideas and making them come to life."

First Res-Q logo

Every team has the desire to win the competition. Each group was motivated and confident that they were going to win.

Khalid said, "My team motivates me because of the fact that they’re always by my side. We all faced the obstacles together and that’s what lead me to continue throughout this competition."

"For this competition, we really put our minds together because we wanted to win," said Khalid ’17. "My team wanted to see our robot become better than the last time. We put extra time into the robot and also overcame difficulties of the robot such as the wiring or the connections to make the robot move."

Team Captain Bakhnak said, "This month’s competition was different than last month’s. We had time to make final adjustments to our robot because we saw what worked and didn’t work at the previous competition."

This FTC competition helps the teams work together. Bakhnak said that teams work together by providing different teams wires and other necessities to make their robot better.

"This month we were better prepared because we knew what to expect and we had improved our robot from last time," said Ali ‘16.

Rolling Drones and Bötley Crüe will compete at the NYC Long Island FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on February 28.

Written by Mohammad Khalid (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of Argus.

AutoCAD moves on to regional championship

Posted on Monday, January 25, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

Bötley Crüe, one of the AutoCAD teams, won first place in First Tech Challenge (FTC) on December 20, 2015. They’re now moving onto the Regional Championship.

"They truly deserve the praise and glory for all the hard work they’re put in all semester," said Ms. Lisa Ali, Robotics, Mechatronics, and AutoCAD teacher. "I’m so proud of all my butterflies and all they’ve managed to accomplish for this qualifier."

The team received the Winning Alliance Award and the Motivate Award for exemplifying the essence of FTC through team spirit and enthusiasm, and for making a collective effort to make FIRST known throughout their school and community.

"I’m proud of them. They’ve been working overtime, putting in a lot of lunch hours," said Mr. Cameron Jahn, AutoCAD teacher. "They’ve been dedicated, and it paid off."

Robot with 2 trophies

AutoCAD is a pre-engineering class in the Medical Science Institute. There are three teams with 12 members each.

The challenge, called Res-Q, is based off of rescue situations faced by mountain explorers. Beginning September 12, each team — Bötley Crüe, Rolling Drones, and Pink Droyd — started to build a robot that must fit in an 18-inch cube and must meet all the requirements stated in the manual that the groups received. They must also write efficient programs to run their robots for the challenge.

"Building the robot is an extreme challenge, an arduous trial to build it to the specifications required," said Mohammad Naqvi ’16, "but once you get it right, watching your robot successfully carry out its designated task is an extremely satisfying sight to behold."

There are two mountains on the field. Each one is split in half, one side red and one side blue. Each side of the mountains have a low-zone, mid-zone, high-zone, and the cliff-zone.

There are two drivers and a coach during the matches. There are five matches in total, two minutes and thirty seconds each. Two alliances, blue and red, created from four randomly selected teams go head to head in hopes of moving up the leader board. Right before the match, debris that consists of blocks and balls is poured onto the field. Each one pushed into the alliance’s taped off zone is worth one point.

Matches begin with a 30 seconds autonomous period. During those 30 seconds, the drivers must put their controllers down, and robots are operated through pre-programmed instructions only. As soon as the timer starts, the coach will put the robot in autonomous mode. Teams can earn 20 points per side by resetting rescue beacons, 10 points per climber by delivering climbers to a shelter, 5 points for parking in the rescue beacon repair zone, floor goal or being parked on the mountain and touching the floor, and 10, 20, or 40 points for parking on the mountain in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively.

Once the autonomous period is over, drivers pick up their controllers and wait for the signal. Once the clock starts ticking, drivers do their best to score as high as possible. During the driver-controlled period, teams can earn points 5, 10, or 15 points for debris added to the containers in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively. Each alliance zone contains a trigger. Once the trigger is pulled, a climber attached to a zip line will slide down into a box which is worth 20 points. The climbers that are already there from the autonomous period are recounted for an additional ten points each. Each alliance can earn the same number of points for parking in the different zones and bringing climbers to shelter as they would during the autonomous period.

"Driving the robot is a lot of stress," said Shazem Khalid ’16, Bötley Crüe driver and builder. "All the hopes of your teammates rest on your shoulders so you have to make sure you can deal with that weight."

First Res-Q logo

Michael Nurilov ’16, Bötley Crüe driver, said, "When I’m driving, I feel like I’m in complete control. I’m confident."

Only in the last 30 seconds of the match can the drivers drive their robots up the cliff zone to hang from the pull up bar at the top and score 80 points. A robot that claims an "all clear" signal made up of two perpendicular bars, red and blue, located on top of the pull up bar of each mountain earns 20 points per signal if it pushes the bar with its team color down.

"We worked hard to make sure we could hang from the pull-up bar," said Victoria Gnip ’16, Bötley Crüe captain and programmer. "Thankfully, our hard work payed off, because we were the only team that hung successfully."

Bötley Crüe won with a total of 148 points.

According to Mr. Jahn, the members of the teams had robotics and mechatronics and had plenty of practice from the competitions that was in the class.

"This year, I made a goal to be hands-off and let the kids handle it. But that made me even more nervous because I have to watch them do everything on their own," said Mr. Jahn.

Dana Gan ’16, a builder for Bötley Crüe said, "We were pretty nervous and very skeptical about how we would do, even our teacher, Mr. Jahn, didn’t think we’d make it. He said he was so nervous he almost threw up."

The other two teams, were not as fortunate as Bötley Crüe. The teams’ scores suffered because of continuous loss of Wi-Fi connection. Rolling Drones placed eleventh out of 21, and Pink Droyd placed fourteenth place out of 21, respectively.

"Technology is supposed to help us, but when blasted connectivity issues comes to ruin it all we can do is watch in despair as the robot stops like a lifeless rock and almost as if it sits in the fetal position helpless and lost," said Ihor Bakhnak ’16, Rolling Drones captain and designated driver.

Despite the difficulty of the challenge, all three teams are optimistic, and are working hard on improving their robots to compete at future events. They will compete at the FTC East Flatbush Qualifier on February 6.

"We had a lot of fun as it was our first time," said Bakhnak, "and Mr. Jahn was proud of us as we [Midwood Robotics] had overall a successful competition bringing home two trophies."

Matthew Pero ’16, Bötley Crüe match coach and programmer, said, "We did well at the competition, but there are many things that need to be done and that can be improved upon for the next competition."

Bötley Crüe will compete the NYC Long Island FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on February 28.

Written by Jessica Wen (Class of 2017) and Quetourah Dalencourt (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of Argus.

AP Capstone Combines English and Science

Posted on Thursday, November 5, 2015 by for Media.

AP Capstone, a rigorous program designed to prepare students for college level literature research and writing, is now being offered at Midwood, one of the six high schools in New York that currently participates in this program.

According to the College Board, AP Capstone, a two year program, is designed to provide students with core academic skills necessary for college. The program is broken into two classes: AP Seminar and AP Research. AP Seminar focuses on teaching students the skills necessary for literature research, presentation and writing research based essays. Those skills will be used later in AP Research to write an academic paper, present the paper, and defend it.

To implement AP Capstone, the English and Science departments have worked together to redesign the curriculum of the Research program to meet the standards..

"AP Capstone is a class which prepares students for college and allows them to explore their own interest," said Mr. Kamil Kraszewski, AP seminar teacher. "The class is focused on teaching students to conduct research, write college level papers and create argumentative presentations."

This course supports the New York State standards through the implementation of Common Core. For example, standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.1 requires students to be able to "write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence."

Mr. Kraszewski added, "It’s [the class] meant to foster independence, because just about everything we do I set the way for the students, but the way they get there is up to them. "

The class is designed as an independent research class in which students learn necessary skills, such as using online databases and understanding how to compile information, and use those skill sets to perform their own research at home.

"Its really about the revision process," said Mr. Kraszewski. "I feel that many high school students feel that once they do something it’s done, and this is again meant to prepare students a process where revising is so important."

To ensure student’s work is at a college level, the revision process is focused heavily. The student’s works are revised a multitude of times; feedback is given to the students by their peers, Mr. Kraszewski, and other teachers.

"Sophomore research is a complementary course for the AP Seminar Program," said Ms. Shaniece Mosley, sophomore research teacher. "The projects we do in sophomore research align themselves to topics that are covered in the AP Seminar class."

Students in the AP Capstone program are also part of the Research Program within the Science Department. The Research Program is a three year course that is designed to provide students with the opportunity to perform independent scientific research is various college laboratories throughout the city.

"Our curriculum has aligned itself the requirements of the AP Seminar curriculum in many ways, but the essence of what do have done in sophomore research in previous years is still there." Ms. Mosley added. "Students are doing hands on projects, learning about issues in science, doing meaningful research, evaluating sources of information, and presenting their findings to each other."

The sophomore research class is designed to provide students with basics of research methods: lab safety, basic lab procedures, finding and using sources, and presenting conclusions. These basics are aligned with the AP Seminar curriculum as AP Seminar is heavily focused on scientific literature research.

Ms. Mosley said , "We are trying to assist students in becoming scientists, we want our students to think like scientists, perform experiments, evaluate information, and eventually come to their own conclusion about the world around them."

Within the Research program, juniors perform independent research in citywide college laboratories, and during senior year, the conclusions the students arrived at are used to write scientific research papers to be submitted into various national and statewide competitions. It is being debated whether AP Research should be incorporated into the student’s schedules during junior or senior year.

"AP Capstone is a different program. We had AP Literature, and then we added AP Language and Composition, and now we added AP Capstone," said Mr. Kraszewski. "Up until three years ago, if you were a junior or a senior you had four options, you took the regular English class, Journalism, Creative Writing. or AP Literature. But now you have so many more options to pick from, and we want students to have these choices and options."

Written by Victor Lee and Jacky Lin (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of Argus.

Maker Faire Sparks Creativity

Posted on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 by for Media.

Three dimensional (3D) printers, a mechanical horse, a 28 foot robot, and life-size mouse traps were just some of the scientific makings that were displayed at the 6th Annual Maker Faire.

"It was an awe inspiring experience which triggered my creative genius," said Zainab Salahudin ’17.

Thousands of people joined the Maker Movement on September 26 and 27 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens to experience the tech-influenced Do It Yourself (DIY) community. According to, there were two ticket options: single day passes and weekend passes. Tickets ranged from $30-$80 for adults (18 and up) and $20-$50 for youth and students (ages 3-17).

Junior and Senior Research students were given the opportunity to volunteer for extra credit and experience Maker Faire for free. According to Mr. Glenn Elert, research teacher, a total of 16 seniors, 10 juniors, and three alumni participated.

"I volunteered last year for extra credit and believed it was a valuable experience so there was nothing to lose volunteering again this year," said Michelle Do ’16.

Volunteers had jobs that included: helping out at the Maker Camp, giving out safety waivers, assisting makers, and providing information. Volunteer shifts ranged between four to five hours.

"I enjoyed volunteering at Maker Faire," said Wensi Wu ’17. "I got a free pass and many benefits such as a passport with my picture and a T-shirt.

People were welcomed by a 28 foot tall robot that was made from 95 percent airplane parts and had head and arms that emitted fire. It took its maker, Shane Evans, seven months to complete the masterpiece that weighed approximately 870 pounds.

"It’s very inspiring to see someone take something so ordinary and make a complex machine out of it," said Salahudin.

With a total of six zones, one more than last year, there were activities for all age groups. Children, youth, and adults were able to engage in craft and hands-on activities, drone races, and enjoy scientific musical performances played by a fire organ. Visitors were able to participate in these activities with an activity wristband, which were obtained from some of the volunteers and information tents.

Mie Abouelkheir ’16 presented a workshop on the forces of flights and catapults in Zone 4 and represented the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. She received the opportunity to present in Maker Faire because she was an Intrepid Teen.

"I really enjoyed teaching and seeing parents and their children interact with each other and learn from each other," said Abouelkheir. "It also helped me practice my public speaking skills."

Maker Faire has grown throughout the years and can be found throughout the world. The original maker faire began with approximately 50,000 people and the amount increases every year.

Maker Faire continues to expand and become known throughout the world. According to, there are Maker Faires in Tokyo, Rome, Detroit, Oslo and Shenzhen.

"It’s a great event for showing off ideas for constructing," said Mr. Elert.

Written by Xiao Ying Huang and Jocelyn Chen (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of Argus.

Researchers Battle for Spot in Siemens Finals

Posted on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 by for Media, Siemens.

Senior researchers rocked the new school year by competing in the 17th Siemens Competition.

Siemens Award Medalion

The competition was founded by the Siemens Foundation in 1999 to encourage students to participate in intensive research to improve their understanding of the core values of scientific study. Last year alone, over $500,000 in scholarships were awarded to over 2,000 applicants.

"I worked at a lab throughout the entire summer at Brooklyn College," said Asia Le ’16. "I learned a lot about scientific research while having fun."

Juniors and seniors in the Midwood Science Research program participate in college level research in laboratories throughout the city, in various fields of scientific research. With a minimum of 15 hours spent in laboratories, most students spend much more to complete their individual research experiment with the goals to complete a scientific paper describing their projects and results.

Unlike previous years, the competition was revamped, with an eco-friendly application and an earlier deadline.

"I’m so glad they’re not using paper anymore," said Mr. Glenn Elert, research coordinator. "Paperwork is a pain to send. We used to carry a box filled with stacks of paper and ship it using FedEx."

Shifting from September 30, the deadline this year was the 21, 9 days earlier. With only five school days to prepare students for both the paperwork and the research report required for the competition, time was of the essence.

"The earlier deadline is good because it forces the students to work fast," Mr. Elert added. " It free up their time for the rest of the semester."

"I stayed until tenth period on the last day to finish the application for Siemens as there was so little time I had to complete it," said Max Miloslavsky ’16. " Everything was so rushed this year."

Although the researchers were required to start preparing their lab reports over the summer, many students had incomplete reports and that was only their first hurdle.

"I thought my lab report was pretty good at first," Miloslavsky ’16 added, "but when I went over it there were parts missing and awkwardly worded."

In addition to fixing lab reports, another challenge the researchers faced were incomplete experiments. Some student’s projects were not complete and were ineligible to enter; however, they will be considered for the prestigious Intel Talent Search Competition that will be held in November.

Although no spots were awarded to Midwood researchers this year, they will continue to battle for awards in the Intel Talent Search.

Written by Victor Lee (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of Argus.

Sophomores present projects in annual Science Fair

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 by for Media, Science Fair.

Bacterial growth, lactose formation, and electrolytes were just some of the topics explored by sophomores in preparation for the annual Science Fair on May 28.

"The Science Fair is an excellent way for everyone to gather together, talk about projects, and enjoy good food," said Wen Li Wang ’15.

Principal Michael McDonnell said, "This is the first time the sophomores are given the chance to create something original and present it to the school."

The Science Fair is a yearly event in which sophomores taking Research Projects present their experiments that they worked diligently on to judges. The judges included junior and senior Science Research students and alumni. Juniors and seniors were required to judge three projects and the alumni were required to judge two or three. Around 40 alumni participated in the judging this year. The entire process is student run, and teachers only step in as extras if an alumni doesn’t show up.

Unlike other years, this year, according to Ms. Jennifer Sullivan, there were only three research classes compared to last year’s four. There were also a lot more group projects.

"It went smoothly this year since there was a smaller group," said Mr. Glenn Elert, Science Research teacher. He also added that this year, judges had more time to give feedback and were able to give each project more individualized attention.

Last year, each judge was assigned five projects, which caused judges to rush to finish grading all the projects assigned to them, instead of being able to individualize their comments for each project.

Sophomores were judged based on six different components: poster, abstract, materials and methods, analysis and conclusion, and presentation. Individual projects were scored out of 60, while team projects out of 70. Each project was judged by five different randomly assigned judges to ensure a just and equitable judgment.

"It was a fair rubric and well rounded approach," said Stefanie Henry ’14. "There was room to ask questions."

One of the challenges faced by students was the lack of time to prepare for the project. Students had two weeks to perform their experiments and decorate their poster boards.

"If we had more time to do our projects," said Gary Shun ’17, "we could’ve more accurately measured the results and data."

Mark Dela Pena ’17 said, "We wanted to use a real video recorder to record actual times so they could be more accurate, but we didn’t have time." His partner, Marco Rodriguez ’17, added that the video cameras added credibility because "human perception is often flawed."

The lack of sufficient time caused many students to cut corners when finalizing their research.

Choosing a topic was also difficult for some students.

For example, Ilham Ahmed ’17 had to go through several websites before finding a topic that interested her. At the end, she finally decided to work on lactose formation in various milks.

"I chose this topic because I really like the food sciences and this is a serious issue for lactose intolerant people," said Ahmed. "They need to drink milk because of the nutrients, but they can’t have the lactose."

Finally, another challenge the students had to overcome was the limitation of resources to carry on their projects.

According to Asia Le ’16, there were many projects that involved bacteria. However, students who had projects related to bacteria were only allowed to perform the experiments with resources provided in the research room, A214.

Amna Aslam ’17, who conducted her research on acne, said, "I couldn’t get pathogens, the bacteria that causes acne, which I needed for my desired experiment. It was also hard getting statistics and analyzing the data."

Taiseer Uddin ’17 and Pauletta Lazarevskiy ’17 did their experiment on sound levels and faced many difficulties with finding a quiet room in the school to test their sound level meter. They had to talk to many teachers and switch rooms a few times in order to complete their experiment.

Despite the many difficulties and challenges sophomores faced to get ready for the science fair, the result was rewarding. Researchers were given the opportunity to investigate topics based on their hobbies and the problems they face everyday. They also developed projects that they believed would be beneficial to others.

"I like sports and I like to exercise. I know that sports drinks have electrolytes and I wanted to see if they had a higher concentration of electrolytes than orange juice," said Joanna Midura ’17. "I know you’re not supposed to drink orange juice after working out because of all the carbohydrates, but I just wanted to try and see."

Aslam decided to research on the effects of various cleansers on acne production because she felt that acne is a problem that plagues people of all ages.

"I have acne. Adults have acne. Many people have acne," said Aslam. "It’s very common and I wanted to test which products works best. Neutrogena is the most expensive and it’s always advertised as the best. However advertisers never tell us what it’s being compared to."

Ramirez and Pena decided to work on testing the effects of different Sun Protection Factors (SPF)’s on UV beads.

"We started off with this because since it’s almost summer, most people go to the beach," said Pena. "People always say SPF 100 is the best so we did a test to see whether it really was."

Overall, judges were very pleased with the projects and the amount of work that the sophomores put into creating them,

"So far I think they’re great," said Zainab Iqbal ’15. "They’re not that advanced, but that’s for junior year. This year’s projects are giving students enthusiasm for Junior Research."

Henry said, "You can tell students put a lot of dedication and time into these projects. I enjoyed seeing fellow alumni and being in the educational atmosphere again. I’m glad to see the enthusiasm for science is still strong here."

Dao Quan Lin ’13 said, "Creativity was pretty high this year, however, generating an experimental procedure still needs work."

Seniors who are currently in Science Research can be invited to judge in the next Science Fair.

"It was interesting to start here, and after going through so many competitions, come back to judge the sophomores who did the same thing I did two years ago," said Lucy Lin ’15. "It’s kind of like returning to my childhood."

Lin and Wang plan to judge the Science Fair as alumni next year after finishing their freshman year of college.

"The Science Fair is a good experience for students," said Wang. "It prepares them for college and research as a junior and/or senior."

Mr. Elert added, "It helps sophomores practice conducting experiments, analyzing data, and speaking to the public."

The Science Fair drew attention not only from those who are enthusiastic for science, but also from those who wanted to catch a glimpse of the Hornets’ display of hard work.

"It’s a different language," said Ms. Maria Feehan, a Spanish teacher. "I’m so impressed with the work of all the young scientists. They are all so prepared and poised. They can answer the questions articulately and refer back to their data charts."

Ms. Feehan added that she is impressed with all the hard work that the students put into this project and will definitely come back next year.

"I think it was the best Science Fair ever," said Principal McDonnell.

The date for awards ceremony of the Science Fair has not been determined however it will take place as soon as the scores have been calculated and places have been determined. [Editor’s note: The awards were presented Thursday, June 10, 2015.]

Written by Jocelyn Chen and Nahian Chowdhury (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 edition of Argus.
Photos courtesy of Prianka Zaman (Class of 2013).

9 years in the making… Lucy Lin awes at international competition

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 by for ISEF, Media.

Victory revisited the Hornet hive as Lucy Lin’ 15 traveled to Intel ISEF (Intel International Science and Engineering Fair) on May 11. She regained an honor not bestowed to the Intel Science Research class in the last nine years by winning NYSCEF (New York Science and Engineering Fair) with her experiment on removing toxins from the ground using mushrooms.

"ISEF was a life changing experience," said Lin. "I got to meet people who are going to ivy leagues and I still keep in contact with them."

Lin and Mr. Glenn Elert, chaperone, spent one week in the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel for the competition. Mr. Elert made Lin practice her explanation for the judges and went to represent not only Midwood, but New York City. Only 18 students from New York were accepted out of the 1,700 ISEF candidates.

"Her project won because it had real world application," said Mr. Elert. "Plus she did so much work."

Currently, Lin has won first place in NYSCEF and is a finalist for ISEF. In addition, she won first place at the Brooklyn College Science Fair and third place at JSHS (Junior Science and Humanities Symposium).

Lin’s project, "Degradation of TPH-Diesel through Mycoremediation," was about finding out if she could use oyster mushrooms to clean out diesel from contaminated soil. Her conclusion was that the mushrooms weren’t able to degrade due to other factors such as PH levels and bacteria,

"We all put in a lot of effort in our projects," said Lin. "We have been working on our projects since junior year."

Currently in her lab at Brooklyn College, she is passing on her knowledge of how the lab runs and how to use the equipment to the four juniors taking over next year. She worked on her project while four other Midwood students, Vivian Cheng’ 15 and Xiao Yan Hu’ 15, Melissa Li’ 15, Wenli Wang ’15 and their professor, Dr. Joshua Cheng, continued their work.

Lin’s major struggle was the lack of available time to work on her experiment. While Dr. Cheng taught her the basics such as how to test the soil, Lin rarely saw him. As her classmates did other experiments on different topics such as Wang ’15, who researched on removing bacteria using mushrooms or Cheng ’15 who worked on gathering information on a new carbon. Lin was left in the care of Jan Mun, an artist and mushroom specialist. Due to timing of Jan Mun’s schedule, in the beginning, she was only able to attend lab twice a week and then the time was cut down to once a week.

"I’m so proud of Lucy," said Cheng ’15. "I always see her so focused on her project. She deserves the honor."

Lin does not have plans to continue her research as she wants to major in finance and mathematics at Macaulay Honors Baruch College. She leaves her work for those who will follow her.

Written by Amy Feng.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 edition of Argus.

Ocean Science Team swamps competition

Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 by for Media, Ocean Science.

Astonishingly, Midwood’s Ocean Science Team pulled off a fourth place finish at the city regional of the National Science Bowl at Hunter College High School on March 7.

The National Science Bowl is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation in order to encourage science literacy.

"The sciences are fundamental to our understanding of the world and to progress as a whole," said programmer and impromptu coach Mr. Alan Stack. "This competition serves as a great way to get the youngest generation involved and interested."

The competition consisted of 22 teams from schools across the city such as Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, Hunter, and, for the first time since 2005, Midwood. There wasn’t just one, but two hornet squads battling it out against top students from across the city.

"We’d never participated in a competition like this one, so we were just hoping for a better than last place finish," said A-Team Captain Helen Wong ’15.

Fortunately for the Ocean Science Team, the format wasn’t much different from the Bay Scallop Bowl in February because the competition was solely double elimination style.

"The question style wasn’t that different either," said B-Team Captain Joseph Parziale ’16. "Most of the material consisted of things we’d already learned in chem, bio, and physics in school or from ocean science."

The most nerve-racking moment of the competition was before it even started according to B-Team player Irla Belli ’16. "Everyone else was fervently studying last minute, and we were just there laughing and having fun," she said.

The first round was just a practice round and both teams won over their competition by at least a 20 point margin.

"That practice round was a major boost to our confidence," A-Team player Bart Rosenzweig ’16 recalled afterwards.

B-Team came close but lost the first two rounds early against Brooklyn Tech C-Team and Trinity School which cast some doubt on A-Team’s chances.

"We didn’t do great, but we got some well needed experience," said Belli.

A-Team walked into their first real match against Brooklyn Tech’s B-Team and stomped them 84-8. Question after question, players buzzed in with one correct answer after another as Brooklyn Tech sat dumbfounded.

Next, A-Team waltzed in confidently against The Browning School’s A-Team and pummeled them 86-30.

"It was a blur," said Wong, "I felt like we were answering every question, and what we didn’t know, they didn’t either."

Tougher competition awaited A-Team in round three. The best of Brooklyn Tech, their A-Team, stood in the way.

At first, it did not look good with only a third of a round gone and A-Team was already down 20 points. Miraculously, some quick buzzing, incorrect interrupts by the opposition, and some clutch 10 point bonus questions closed the gap and Midwood was up by roughly ten points with two minutes to go.

With a minute to go, A-Team converted a 4 point question but missed out on a bonus. The lead was now 56-36, but a quick answer by Tech closed the lead to 56-40. Fortunately for the Hornets, an incorrect bonus question ended the round there.

"My heart stopped," said Ms. Kimberly Lau. "Before I saw the lead was insurmountable, I thought that one question could’ve cost us."

A-Team then faced off against Hunter’s A-Team, and an early deficit was never made up leading to defeat. In the following match, a tie at 28 at the half against Hunter’s B-Team, resulted in a 94-32 loss.

"The end wasn’t too exciting because we weren’t neck and neck," admitted Wong, "However, the end result was amazing. We’d only prepared for two hours for the competition and ended fourth."

Regis High School ended up winning from the loser’s bracket over Hunter’s B and A Teams in succession, and its team will go to the state regional.

Against all odds, Midwood’s teams showed up expecting the worst and gave it their all. Competitive experience from the Bay Scallop Bowl in February helped , but dedication on the part of the players was what really gave Midwood the edge.

"Next year we’ll be ready, and we’ll try to win it all because now we know exactly what we’re getting into," concluded Mr. Stack.

Written by Samuel Makarovskiy.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of Argus.

Science brings students together at NYCSEF

Posted on Monday, March 9, 2015 by for Media, NYCSEF.

Anxious presenters stood next to their boards as they explained their projects to the public at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair on Sunday, March 1.

"Seeing all those projects were really helpful to me because I learned how the projects are being displayed and it teaches us things that can possibly benefit the world," said Matthew Chung ’16.

The New York City Science and Engineering Fair, NYCSEF, was held at City College in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan. This is known to be the largest science fair for New York high school students. Students from various high schools entered, including Brooklyn Technical High School, Edward R. Murrow High School, and Stuyvesant High School.

According to Mr. Glenn Elert, Science Research Coordinator, there were 450 projects, 578 students, and 120 became finalists. Nine of those finalists included Midwood’s Michael Divgun ’15, Tamneya Hauter ’15, Syeda HIllary ’15, Zainab Iqbal ’15, Sandra Lin ’15, Lucy Lin ’15, Monique Powell ’15, Emily Tse ’15, and Raymond Yu ’15.

Seniors in the Science Research program presented their projects in the science fair. The judges who viewed the presentations varied from Google employees to professors at universities.

"In the beginning, I was really nervous and scared, but as judges started coming and I presented to my first judge, I started to relax more," said Dina Deng ’15. "It was a fun experience because you got to see what other people researched and studied."

Mr. Elert also attended as a judge for the science fair.

"It’s like being a teacher, you’re just grading someone’s work," said Mr. Elert. "They had over 400 judges, which was the largest amount ever. There were so many judges that they ran out of judge IDs."

After the seniors were done presenting to the judges, the science fair was open for public viewing which the sophomores and juniors attended.

"I wanted them to see what the event was like before they went for real," Mr. Elert said, "Meaning going in for competing as opposed to just observing."

Michelle Do ’16 said, "It was a really nice and enriching experience because now that I know first hand what is happening, I will work on my project even more since I will be doing this same exact thing in a year from now."

Final rounds will take place at The American Museum of Natural History in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life on March 24. Experts in 14 different science and engineering fields will judge the finalists. Out of those finalists, around 20 students will be chosen to represent New York City in May at the 2015 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

"I was astounded by the news that I got into the NYCSEF finals," said Yu. "I feel honored to be selected as a finalist and am excited for the upcoming final round."

The prizes for the winners of the final round include over $4,000,000 in scholarships and awards as well as an all expenses paid trip to Pittsburgh. However, above all else, these presentations showcased the hard work and passion of the students.

Iqbal said, "I attended because I wanted to present my project and hopefully go somewhere with it. Psychology can also be very underestimated sometimes because you usually see chemistry and physics, but not a lot of psychology."

Written by Christine Ly and Amanda Kwong.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of Argus.

Ocean Science Team captures third place

Posted on Monday, February 23, 2015 by for Media, Ocean Science.

Midwood’s Ocean Science Team pulled out a third place victory at the Bay Scallop Bowl at Stony Brook University on Saturday, February 7.

There were 16 teams from across the state in the competition with Midwood contributing both an A and B-Team to the competition. The competition started with a three round "round robin" tournament within a division which determined seeding for a single elimination game in the fourth round. After that round four single elimination game, the remaining eight teams played the rest of the tournament in double elimination style. A loss there would put a team in the losing bracket and another loss thereafter would end their run in the competition.

"We’re super psyched for today’s competition," said A-Team Captain Helen Wong ’15 on the bus ride there.

The day began under Midwood’s Greco-Roman columns at six in the morning when the two teams (A and B), their respective coaches (Mr. Alan Stack and Ms. Kimberly Lau), and some potential recruits boarded the bus to Stony Brook University.

"On the bus ride there, we reviewed some things we hadn’t covered thoroughly," said A-Team player Bart Rosenzweig ’16.

Upon arrival the teams ate a complimentary breakfast to settle some nerves before the first match.

"When I saw the first team, Mt. Sinai High School, my heart stopped," said A-Team coach, Mr. Alan Stack. "They’re the toughest competition at the tournament, and they’re A-Team’s first match."

The round against Mt. Sinai was close but A-Team pulled through with a close 85-76 point win. That nine point difference could have easily been erased with one question pair.

Team A: Samuel Makarovskiy, Bart Rosenzweig, Helen Wong, Andrew Li

"When we beat them, we felt so much more confident of our chances," said Wong.

A-Team’s next two rounds were 143-47 and 100-53 point blowout wins against The Stony Brook School and Farmingdale High School B-team respectively.

"In a scrim a few months ago, we had lost to Farmingdale, and this was a great consolation," said A-Team player Andrew Li ’16.

B-Team lost the first two rounds by a small margin to Churchville-Chili Senior High School and Massapequa High School. In Round 3, B-Team made a comeback in the final seconds and pulled out a win by a hair against Deer Park High School.

"I just got in the zone answering questions, and the next thing I knew we won," said B-Team player Joseph Parziale ’16.

After lunch the placements were in for the round four single elimination game. A-Team got seeded second due to their 3-0 record and went up against 15 seed Division Avenue High School. B-team was seeded tenth against seventh seed Hunter College High School.

A-Team won a relatively close match in Round 4 against Division Avenue 91-47 and survived single elimination.

"That was a weight off of our shoulders for sure because now we have some breathing room," said Wong.

Team B: Rumsha Javed, Laila Akallal, Joseph Parziale, Nicholas Christensen

Unfortunately, B-Team lost by five points to Hunter in the single elimination round ending their run in the competition then and there.

"Although we lost, I feel like we did pretty well and the matches were really close," said B-Team Captain Laila Akallal ’16.

Next round A-team played Hunter in the first double elimination and beat them thoroughly 104-26 as payback for B-team.

"I’m incredibly proud that they scored over 100 points in a double elimination round," said Ms. Lau. "The questions are so much harder at that stage in the competition."

Round 6 against third seed Great Neck South High School started off with an early 40-0 point deficit. After an attempted comeback, A-Team lost 94-40.

"We can’t slack off like that again," said Rosenzweig, "They were faster, but we should’ve buzzed in even if we weren’t 100 percent sure."

A-Team came back in Round 7 in the losers’ bracket winning 85-49 over Churchville-Chili High School from Rochester.

"That was a boost to our confidence," said Li. "We were faster on the buzzer and more confident in our answers which really paid off."

By Round 8 there were four teams left, and Mt. Sinai had won the winner’s bracket. A-Team was slated against Longwood High School, and the round was played on the auditorium stage with dozens of spectators. Early on, A-Team pulled ahead by 20 points, and held onto the lead carrying it through to the end.

"In that round there wasn’t much we didn’t know," said Wong. "Considering it’s a later round, it says a lot about the work we put in."

Teacher Advisors: Ms. Kimberly Lau, Mr. Alan Stack

Great Neck South was A-Team’s opponent in Round 9, and it was dead even off the bat at 20-20 points. In the last few seconds, unfortunate penalties for interrupted wrong answers cost the A-Team. The final score was extremely close at 54-49.

"We gave it our best, we knew the answers, and it just came out to the luck of the draw," said Rosenzweig.

Great Neck South went onto the finals and lost to Mt. Sinai who will now go to nationals in April in Mississippi. Midwood A-Team came out in third place and secured a spot for next year.

"I’m not at all disappointed with the result because we learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and did our best," said Wong.

"Every year our performance improves, and this year we beat out last year’s fifth place high water mark with our highest rank yet," said Mr. Stack. "Ms. Lau and I couldn’t be prouder of this year’s teams and are looking forward to next year."

Written by Samuel Makarovskiy.
This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of Argus.

Senior Research brings home six awards

Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2015 by for Media, St. Joseph's.

Holding six awards, senior researchers left the 20th Annual High School Poster Session at St. Joseph’s College on January 7 in high spirits. Awards were obtained from all three possible categories: first place, second place, and honorable mentions.

Research students prepared posters detailing their projects over the Winter Regents Week with the guidance of their research teachers Mr. Glenn Elert, Ms. Jennifer Sullivan and Ms. Shaniece Mosley. Common sections of the poster (introduction, methods, data and analysis, discussion, and references) were drafted and completed on a PowerPoint presentation slide. Afterwards, the PowerPoints were printed on a 36 by 48 inch poster paper.

"I put in all this hard work and all the hours," said Monique Powell ’15. "When I f nally got the results of all the hard work, I was genuinely proud that I contributed something to society."

Wen Li Wang with her mentor Ms. Jan Mun

Taulant Kastrati speaking to a judge

Carmine See speaking to a judge

Students began to receive their printed posters several days before the competition due to the long process required to print the large posters. Some posters, such as Monique’s, were printed in color and cost as much as $100; however, her mentor, Dr. Frank Grasso at Brooklyn College paid for the poster. Posters that were printed in black and white were much cheaper, averaging around $15.

Prior to the competition Mr. Elert told the students, "You have to go in with a winner’s mindset; just because some of you haven’t placed at Intel, it doesn’t mean you can’t win at St. Joseph’s."

Seniors presented their completed projects to the sophomore research classes prior to the competition as practice for the event.

Mohammed Hasan speaking to a judge

Zainab Iqbal speaking to a judge

Hillary Syeda speaking to judges

The competitors arrived at St. Joseph’s at 9 AM on Saturday, February, 7 to set up their posters and prepare for the judging process that would begin half an hour later. Every competitor was required to bring a trifold board to support their posters during their presentation.

"I felt very nervous, I didn’t know what they were going to ask me," said Charlynn Trish Ben ’15. "I just had that college professors, doctors, alumni, and attending students at St. Joseph’s College.

"The judging experience was very relaxing, it was very comfortable," said Meghan Ng ’15. "I thought it feels like talking to a friend, a friend that is very interested to learn about parrots."

Raymond Yu greeting a judge

Yukie Wong speaking to judges

Samar Syeda and Samantha Chee presenting their project

The judging process took about two hours to complete. The seniors were each judged by two to four judges. They were judged on their ability to present the objective of their projects, the methodology and the results of their experiment. Their objective was to effectively relay the big ideas and the important and interesting portions of their study.

While the judges deliberated, competitors enjoyed a lecture and presentation by Dr. Carlo Yuvienco, a researcher at New York University. During the lecture, experiments were performed displaying the unique properties of various solvents and solutes. Additionally, topics such as innovations in drug cancer treatment and the development of biological weapons were discussed, raising questions for the future of researchers. "I think this is wonderful," said Daniel Mace, alumni of St. Joseph’s College. "This gives kids at a young age not only the inspiration to join the sciences, but

also to learn the ability to communicate their thoughts." Hillary Syeda was awarded one of the two first place prizes in the competition; additionally Michael Divgun was awarded one of two second place prizes. Honorable mentions were awarded to Charlynn Trish Ben, Aarin Chase, Dina Deng, and Zainab Iqbal. In total, Midwood won six out of 14 possible awards at the competition. Students left St. Joseph’s with high hopes for future competitions. "St. Joseph’s is a chance to practice what you’re going to say, and familiarize yourself with what you’re going to be asked in the future," said Colleen Chasteau ’15.

Dr. Carlo Yuvienco prepares demonstrations for his keynote presentation

A nearly complete Midwood Science group photo

Zainab Iqbal with her mentor Dr. Sara Chiara Haden

Although some students did not win awards at the St. Joseph’s High School Poster Session, they were all awarded the experience of being judged by others in a formal event on their projects. As Mace said, it is a chance for the students to formally present their works to others and improve on their weaknesses.

Rolens Ambroise ’15 said, "St. Joseph’s isn’t very big, so it prepares you for the bigger competitions like NYCSEF by practicing your presentations."

This March, two events will be held to select the winners of the New York City Science and Engineering Fair. On March 1, a preliminary round will be held at The City College of New York; afterwards, on March 24, a final round will be held at The American Museum of Natural History to select the winners of the competition. Winners of NYCSEF will represent New York City as Team NYC at the 2015 Intel ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

For the 2016 High School Poster Session, Marco Diaz Cordova, an undergraduate student at St. Joseph’s, encourages students to, "Have good posters with a lot of pictures; something that will attract the judge’s eyes. Most importantly, would be to know what your project is on, and all the background information on the topic."

Written by Victor Lee and Joselyne Pimentel.
Photos by Andrey Moiseyenko.
This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of Argus.

Ocean Science Team requires intense studying

Posted on Monday, February 2, 2015 by for Media, Ocean Science.

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 Media, STS.

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.

Research students attend Yummy Science lecture

Posted on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 by for Lectures, Media.

"You’re not talking to your tomatoes," said Bill Yoses, former White House Pastry Chef to a crowd of students looking forward to the Yummy Science Lecture at the Intrepid. The lecture, attended by the Science Research students, talked about the importance of a healthy and balanced diet as well as the science behind certain food preparation. "It was a very hands-on lecture," said Samar Syeda ’15. "This was my first time going to a lecture and I was expecting a long and boring PowerPoint, but, thankfully, that didn’t happen. We got to interact with the lecturer and take part in some activities instead of just listening to him speak." Mr. Yoses started the lecture by making a quesadilla, but instead of using cheese he used guacamole with beans and mushrooms. He touched on topics such as the discovery of the chemistry of cooking and baking and exploring new innovations in food management and sustainability. Some examples of chemistry being applied are creating blown glass like figurines out of heated sugar. Sugar, when boiled to the right temperature, can be malleable and distorted into numerous shapes. He recounted once making such figurines for a White House State Dinner.

Midwood science research students making butter from cream

After Mr. Yoses’ lecture, students were separated into two groups: scrub and butter. Students were able to create their own body products such as a pumpkin spice body scrub, as well as a honey and yogurt face mask. Butter was created by shaking heavy whipping cream for 15 to 20 minutes while songs such as "Hey Ya" by Outkast and "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift were playing in the background. "The activities were interesting and fun, I learned a lot. I make face masks at home, and it was cool to see how other people make masks too," said Yukie Wong ’15. Along with having fun making the various items, the students learned a lot about their food choices and consumption. Mr. Yoses worked alongside Michelle Obama on her food campaign where they brought kids from the Washington, DC area to the White House garden, cultivated by Mrs. Obama and other chefs. Many topics such as alternative sources for protein were discussed, as well as the subject of genetically modified organisms (GMO). Mr. Yoses commented that it is "not really bad but not the best either." "I found it interesting that Mr. Yoses mentioned caring about food as if it’s a person," said Valeriya Falkovich ’15. "He said, ‘Talk to your food, and it will talk back." He then pointed to a slightly dried up pita bread because he left it out for a while, and sprinkled it with water to soften the texture. "This example gave me insight that food is not just something we consume, but also art that we create." Many questions surrounding the White House naturally surfaced as well. One student asked about what happens to leftovers after a state dinner. Mr. Yoses was not able to really talk about this for security reasons, but he did not say that the leftovers go to a "good place." Another student asked if there was ever a time that President Obama went to cook for himself. He recounted a time when President Obama went to the kitchen during breakfast and showed the chefs how to cook his eggs. For those wondering, according to Mr. Yoses, President Obama’s favorite dessert is fruit pie.

Charlynn Trish Ben
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 edition of Argus.

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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