The Home of Midwood Science Research

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.

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"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.

Students needed for the 2016 Physics Bowl

Posted on Monday, February 29, 2016 by for Extra Credit, Juniors, Seniors.

Midwood will be administering the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Physics Bowl sometime between March 30 and April 15. Participants in this competition take a 45 minute, 40 question multiple choice test written by the AAPT. This event is open to all students who are currently enrolled in an AP Physics class. Awards are given to the top students and the top schools in a geographic region. All research students who participate will receive extra credit. If you are interested in this event, contact Mr. Spergel through PupilPath or email hspergel@schools.nyc.gov. He will give you information on how to register and how to take the practice exam online. The actual exam will be administered period 9 on a date to be determined.

Physics Bowl logo

5 Day DNA Science Camp

Posted on Sunday, February 28, 2016 by for Extra Credit, Juniors, Seniors, Sophomores.

Are you interested in molecular genetics and modern biotechnology? Do you wish you had more time in the lab at school? Do you want to learn more about DNA? Join fellow students for a 5 day DNA Science Camp at the Harlem DNA Lab during Spring Break. High School students in grades 9–12 who have successfully completed Living Environment are eligible to apply. This camp is FREE for NYC public school students.

DNA Science Camp provides extensive lab experience with the basic techniques of recombinant DNA, including DNA restriction and ligation, bacterial transformation and plasmid isolation. Participants perform the entire lab sequence from the popular DNA Science text and will receive their own copy of the text to keep.

Apply now to attend DNA Science Camp at the Harlem DNA Lab. Students selected to participate must attend all five days April 25–29, 2016. Lunch and a metro card will be provided. Space is limited. Online applications must be completed by Friday, March 11. All supporting documents (media release, parent consent form, and teacher letter of support) are due by Tuesday, March 15. Email questions to ESC@schools.nyc.gov.

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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.

Meet with FAA engineers

Posted on Sunday, February 21, 2016 by for Everyone, Lectures.

In honor of Engineers’ Week, representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Terminal Design Center will be at Midwood on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. Discussion will center on careers in engineering and what it’s like to work for the federal government. The meeting will take place in room A117 during period 9. All students are welcome to attend.

Engineer's Week banner FAA seal

NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2016 by for Juniors, Sophomores.

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Interested in science research opportunities for high school students in NYC? The NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium of programs offer a chance to work closely with a scientist, collect and analyze data, present at conferences, and more. Here are some of their partner programs relevant to students in Science Research. Pay attention to the fast-approaching deadlines.

  • Center for K12 STEM Education logoApplied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) is a 7-week summer program at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. This selective program is for academically strong, current 10th and 11th grade New York City students with a demonstrated interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The program includes 3 weeks of college level coursework, 4 weeks in a high level research experience in one of several faculty labs, and mentoring in that placement by a graduate or postdoctoral student. Follow this link for a list of possible placements in 2016. Application Deadline: March 1, 2016.
  • Columbia University logoBrain Research Apprenticeships In New York At Columbia (BRAINYAC) is a mentored research program for 10th–12th graders run by the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. The program aims to open the resources of the Columbia University neuroscience community to a wider audience by placing high school students in neuroscience laboratories at Columbia University Medical Center for four weeks of mentored research. Students undergo training in basic lab skills and neuroscience fundamentals during Saturday afternoon sessions in the months preceding their laboratory placement. Enrollment is done through the State Pre-College Enrichment Program (S-PREP) at Columbia University Medical Center. Application Deadline: March 11, 2016.
  • CUNY/CREST logoHigh School Initiative in Remote Sensing of the Earth Systems Science & Engineering (HIRES) is a 7 week summer program of the CUNY Remote Sensing Earth System (CREST) Institute at City College. It offers high school students entering grades 10–12 an opportunity to work closely with scientists in the field and in labs, collect, analyze, and interpret (mostly satellite) data, present at conferences, and more. CREST research focuses on all aspects of remote sensing and topics include global climate studies, atmosphere and weather, water resources and land processes, and ocean and coastal waters. All students that complete the entire program will receive a $800 stipend and 3 college credits. Application Deadline: March 15, 2016.
  • AMNH logoScience Research Mentoring Program (SRMP) offers high school students the opportunity to join ongoing research projects lead by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Students interested in getting accepted for this science research experience must first take three After School Program Science Research courses offered at the museum. These courses prepare students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for doing science research. Students can choose between two concentration areas: Physical Sciences or Life Sciences. Application Deadline: April 1, 2016.
  • Wave Hill logoWoodland Ecology Research Mentorship (WERM) provides current freshman, sophomores, and juniors a unique opportunity to work with local ecologists and participate in ecological research projects. This program is coordinated by the Wave Hill public garden and cultural center in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. Students work 30 hours a week during the summer and meet on Saturdays during the school year. Application Deadline: April 3, 2016.

40% of finalists in new STEM competition are Midwood Science students

Posted on Saturday, February 13, 2016 by for Awards, Miscellaneous.

Teptu is an organization dedicated to promoting educational opportunities and fostering awareness in both entrepreneurship and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).​ Teptu Brink is a new STEM competition open to students from New York City and South Africa. The 48 NYC finalists were announced on Friday, February 12, 2016 including 19 from Midwood. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 40% for the home team. The Teptu Brink finals event will be held Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at Baruch College.

Teptu. NYC & South Africa. Young Leaders Changing the World.

  • Yusra AbdurRob
    Project: "Photoreceptor layer thickness in Parkinson’s disease during circadian rhythm."
    Mentor: Dr. Ivan Bodis-Wollner, Department of Neurology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Urooj Ansari
    Project: "The physical and chemical warfare between Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sanguinis."
    Mentor: Dr. Nicolas Biais, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College
  • Kieran Bissessar
    Project: "A new perspective on the lupus malady."
    Mentor: Dr. Donald Gerber, Department of Medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Leutrim Cahani
    Project: "The role of vitamin D in Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection in human epithelial cells."
    Mentor: Dr. Nicolas Biais, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College
  • Xiao Jun (Gloria) Cao
    Project: "The effect of tenofovir on bone homeostasis."
    Mentor: Dr. Bruce Cronstein, Department of Pharmacology, NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Matthew Chung
    Project: "Effects of multiple-episode neonatal sevoflurane treatment on adult behavior."
    Mentor: Dr. Ira Kass, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Quetourah Dalencourt
    Project: "How does peer pressure affect one’s perception of beauty?"
    Mentor: Dr. Denis Pelli, Department of Psychology, New York University
  • Michelle Do
    Project: "Location dependent properties of LTP and LTD-like synaptic activity on action potential generation assayed in NEURON."
    Mentor: Dr. Juan Marcos Alarcon, Department of Pathology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Xiao Ying Huang
    Project: "Effective synthesis of cyclooctyne compounds: Cyclization and purification of cyclooctynes and a tricarbonyl iron (0) vinylketene complex."
    Mentor: Dr. Wayne F.K. Schnatter, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Long Island University
  • Emily Hui
    Project: "Paternal investment in male-pregnant pipefish Syngnathus fuscus."
    Mentor: Dr. Tony Wilson, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College
  • Sana Ilyas
    Project: "Simulating the TBR1/CASK protein interface to understand risk for autism spectrum disorder."
    Mentor: Dr. Richard Bonneau, Department of Biology, New York University
  • Rumsha Javed
    Project: "DNA-damage induced and p53-dependent nucleolin translocation in breast cancer cells."
    Mentor: Dr. Anjana D. Saxena, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College
  • Jessica Lauv
    Project: "To utilize a new lithium reagent derivative to produce hydrazone vinyl ketenes to create steroids."
    Mentor: Dr. Wayne F.K. Schnatter, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Long Island University
  • Shang (Chris) Lee
    Project: "The mechanisms of hydralazine and quinidine on lupus."
    Mentor: Dr. Donald Gerber, Department of Medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Nga Ying Lo
    Project: "Development of an efficient synthesis of aryl trifluoromethylated compounds and the purification of products produced from reactions with vinylketenes."
    Mentor: Dr. Wayne F.K. Schnatter, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Long Island University
  • Christine Ly
    Project: "Capturing cancer cells with the use of microfluidic chips."
    Mentor: Dr. Weiqiang Chen, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NYU Tandon School of Engineering
  • Maya Miller
    Project: "Grain v. liquid culture in growing mycelium in contaminated soil."
    Mentor: Dr. Zhongqi (Joshua) Cheng, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Brooklyn College
  • Max Miloslavsky
    Project: "MYEXOHAND."
    Mentor: Dr. Victoria Bill, Department of Student Programs, Cooper Union
  • Shanayah Renois
    Project: "Nitrendipine reduces agar invasion in Candida albicans."
    Mentor: Dr. Peter Lipke, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College
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Glenn Elert — Coordinator

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Michael McDonnell — Principal
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