Everyone received a message at the end of Midwinter Break. If you "lost" yours, here’s a copy.
The New York City Metro Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) was held at York College in Jamaica, Queens on Sunday, February 8, 2015. Individual students compete at JSHS for scholarships and recognition by presenting original research projects before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Midwood entered 7 students and had 4 semifinalists this year.
Saturday, February 7, 2015 marked the 20th year St. Joseph’s College New York held a High School Poster Session for scientific research in all fields. Midwood Science students excelled once again, collecting 6 of 14 possible awards — one first place, one second place, and four honorable mentions.
Charlynn Trish Ben
|Mr. Elert||Ms. Mosley||Ms. Sullivan|
|Mie Abouelkheir||Kieran Bissessar||Yusra AbdurRob|
|Laila Akallal||Nadia Brijmohan||Urooj Ansari|
|Alexandra Auteri||Doris Etienne||Leutrim Cahani|
|Bilal Azhar||Jinyan Huang||Xiao Jun (Gloria) Cao|
|Mohammed Chowdhury||Xiao Ying Huang||Matthew Chung|
|Roshan Chudry||Jessica Lauv||Michelle Do|
|Quetourah Dalencourt||Asia Le||Zachary Feinstein|
|Hussein Fardous||Shang (Chris) Lee||Q.Q. (Venus) Fu|
|Nikola Iberle||Nga Ying Lo||Daniel Guobadia|
|Victor Lee||Christine Ly||Emily Hui|
|Max Miloslavsky||Nikolas Magloire||Sana Ilyas|
|Josh Pilipovsky||Maya Miller||Rumsha Javed|
|Abrar (Abe) Rais||Zaw Naing||Joseph Parziale|
|Sayahi Suthakaran||Osarhuwense Otasowie||Joselyne Pimentel|
|William Xie||Diana Polonska||Daniel Rebibo|
|Lily Xiong||Kai Saunders||Shanayah Renois|
|Xiu Ling Weng|
|(16 students)||(19 students)||(16 students)|
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 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.
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.
"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."
Winters in Brooklyn are cold, but Midwood Science students know a much colder cold — liquid nitrogen. Nitrogen is the primary component of air. In its liquid phase it boils at −196 °C, just 77 degrees above absolute zero (77 kelvin). It’s hard to find anything colder than that. Pour it on the floor and it’s cold enough to make micro-clouds. Midwood Science seniors traditionally celebrate the end of the fall semester with 30 second liquid nitrogen ice cream and other cryogenic experiments like the one shown below. Because science is just that awesome.
The Midwood Science Research Program is proud to announce that Charlynn Trish Ben is a Semifinalist in the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search (STS). Charlynn is the only semifinalist from a Brooklyn high school this year and the first Midwood student to win this award in 9 years. Intel STS Semifinalists represent the top 300 science research projects selected from more than 1,800 nationwide. Each semifinalist receives a $1,000 award from Intel with an additional $1,000 going to his or her school.
Six students also received the 2015 Intel STS Research Report Award for "a well-written, college-level, journal-style research report".
One student received a Student Initiative Award for "exhibiting extraordinary effort and dedication in her pursuit of scientific research".
Congratulations to Charlynn and the other seven winners.
"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.
Midwood Science Research Program
Glenn Elert — Coordinator
|Midwood High School at Brooklyn College
Michael McDonnell — Principal
2839 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11210
|Mr. Elert (Coordinator)||A214||elert@||midwoodscience.org||2141|
|Ms. Goldstein||A317||goldstein@||midwoodscience.org||3172 or 3173|
|Ms. Mosley||A317||mosley.chem@||gmail.com||3172 or 3173|
|Mr. McDonnell (Principal)||127||mmcdonn2@||schools.nyc.gov||1270 or 8511|
|Mr. Rosenfeld (Assistant Principal)||A200||trosenf@||schools.nyc.gov||2003|