|Check the Big Calendar|
On Monday, October 30, 2023 the Physics Department at Brooklyn College will have a very special guest speaker — the physicist, oceanographer, broadcaster, and author Dr. Helen Czerski. Dr. Czerski is an associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering at University College London. Her talk will explain the physics behind the ocean’s various circulation systems based on research she has done across the globe, from the equator to the poles. This is the topic of her latest book, The Blue Machine: How the Ocean Works.
The event will take place from 2:15–3:45 PM in the Sam Skurnick Lecture Hall, New Ingersoll Room 148, Brooklyn College. Midwood Science Research and Ocean Science students who attend and complete a short assignment afterwards will receive class credit (for Science Research it’s +4 points). If you are interested, use the QR code in this PDF to take you to the Eventbrite registration page. Send confirmation of registration to elert
Those of you living in New York City were no doubt surprised today as the sky turned first a hazy yellow and then a muddy orange. Smoke from wildfires in Canada have found their way to the Five Boroughs.
Purely by coincidence, Midwood Science juniors Lucy G. and Victoria R. have been measuring air pollution as a part of their project to see how it affects cognition. Specifically they have been looking at particulate matter in the air on the order of 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5). A human hair is about 60 micrometers thick.
"Normally, we read PM2.5 levels of 1 or 2 [micrograms per cubic meter]," Said Lucy. "Today the numbers were over 200".
Elevated PM2.5 levels are a public health concern. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
The Impact of Light on Daphnia Heart Rate
Dana Flores-Zeledon & Weiyee Mock
The effect of calcium citrate, potassium citrate and zinc citrate on the heart rate of Daphnia magna
Feedback Style on Memory Retention
Effect of electricity on the pH of various aqueous solutions
Sara Grezda & Shaymaa Elrashidi
Effect of Cleaning Method on Bacterial Growth of Grapes
Print vs. Pixels
Daisy Meza Veliz & Jenny Chen
The Impact of pH on the Enzymatic Browning Process of Apples
Thawing Techniques on Bacteria Colony Count in Chicken Breast
Career Time vs. School Time
Cholco Chan & Whaley Lin
Bot or Not: Unveiling AI's Mirror to Human Traits
Night Glow Clarity
Afzal Akhtar & Christian Gabelman
From Pollution to Purification: Investigating Excess Phosphorus Remediation Strategies
Memories Over Time
Tomiriz Abdulkhamidova & Jene Chen
Kool-er Way to Dye Fabric
Congrats to all the winners!
Valedictorian Altin Kukic (right) and salutatorian Aleena Sklyar (left) appear poised for great things. Photo: Caroline Pychynski
High School – full of tests, quizzes, friendships, and stress – is coming to an end for the class of 2023. Amongst the students who have left their mark on Midwood are valedictorian Altin Kukic and salutatorian Aleena Sklyar.
After surviving the hardships of high school, Kukic finished with a GPA of 103.49, while Sklyar finished with a GPA of 102.7.
Kukic was accepted to Harvard University on a full scholarship as well as to the Macaulay Honors College to obtain an undergraduate degree in chemistry education. He plans to eventually get a master's degree at Columbia Teachers College and return to Midwood to become a chemistry teacher.
"I fell in love with chemistry on the first day of ninth grade because of Mr. [Vincent] Adams," he said. "The class upheld my motto of applying knowledge to various questions rather than memorizing concepts." Kukic went on to take AP Chemistry as a sophomore.
Although the work was really hard, his family was always by his side. "My mother and sister, who I think of as 'comfort,' would always buy me a Red Bull before each exam," he said.
Kukic has been a chemistry tutor at Midwood since his freshman year and joined the science research team in tenth grade, working on cervical cancer research with professors at CUNY and St. Francis. A busy guy, he's also the office secretary at a doctor's office on the Upper East Side, an election chairperson at the Board of Elections, and the superintendent of his building. Still, he somehow has time for hobbies.
"I enjoy planespotting and walking by the Caesar's Bay waterfront with my sister, usually sipping on Starbucks," Kukic said. "I'm also a creator of an AP Calculus prep book, and I played badminton for twelve years."
Kukic has an interesting test prep strategy that other Hornets might want to give a try. "My favorite memory at Midwood was going to the library before I had exams and giving lectures to myself, especially about AP U.S. History, while everyone, including the librarians, would listen," he said.
Ms. Cecelia Manno, Kukic's AP U.S. History teacher, will remember him as a very eager and hardworking student.
"Altin is the most diligent student, avid reader, and real critical thinker I have ever met," said Ms. Manno. "He is always looking to learn, and I felt that a lot of the time, I was talking to an adult. He has a lot of potential, and he's a kind-hearted person with an old soul."
"I hope that when I come back in six years, I'll see that same Midwood buzz, and most importantly, still see Ms. Manno in room 2S," said Kukic.
Sklyar, the school's salutatrian, took 10 AP's during her academic journey. "It was nice to know after all the AP classes I took, something came out of it," she said.
The accomplishments took dedication and sacrifice.
"To get a high average, you have to take a lot of classes," said Sklyar. "During my junior year, I took four AP classes, including AP Chemistry, which definitely hit me. But even though all those AP tests were hard, I studied a lot for each of the exams and it paid off."
One of Sklyar's most rewarding classes was science research, she said, where she worked with her partner to study neuroscience.
She is continuing her education at Tufts University, where she will be majoring in biochemistry.
"I really like chemistry, which is why I took AP Chem," said Sklyar. "In the future I want to major in pharmacology, which is the study of drugs and medicine, and biochemistry is the first step in understanding how substances react with the body. So I would major in biochemistry first, then go to graduate school for pharmacology."
The support she got from her teachers had a big impact, she said. "All my teachers helped me a lot," said Sklyar. "They were always willing to work with me."
Sklyar, who also enjoys dancing and reading, was described by her friends as "honest" and "optimistic."
"Aleena is one of the most hardworking and motivated people I know," said senior Zita Zhong. "Even during times when she's not feeling well, she still manages to get her work done without any hesitation. I would say that, as a student, she's super diligent, disciplined, and responsible. And as a friend, she's always willing to help out others when they are in need and will give 100% of her support to them."
So keep your eyes open as these two seem poised for great things, in science and perhaps even back in Midwood's halls.
Lucas Paschke and Mykhaelia Clarke pose with Mr. Elert and Ms. Goldstein at the Terra NYC STEM Fair. Photo: Midwood Science
Three Midwood seniors — Lucas Paschke, Mykhaelia Clarke, and Kaitlynn Mau — presented their research projects in the semifinal round of the NYC Metro Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) at York College on February 12, the first in-person event since the pandemic. Paschke and Clarke also received third-place awards for their work in the Terra NYC STEM Fair on March 26.
The NYC Metro JSHS is a regional science research competition funded by the Department of Defense. Of the 300 applicants, 100 are selected as semi-finalists. The Terra NYC STEM Fair is hosted by the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, a non-profit organization in Syracuse, New York.
"[The competitions] taught me a lot," said Paschke, "like how to actually research in the field with another expert, coming into a situation where you don't know the most, and making your own conclusions instead of reading it from someone else. It was very fulfilling."
Paschke researched "multivariable analysis on stock price and trade volume trends in the post-Covid-19 stock market shutdown era." His project was a remote study to find trends between the pandemic's aftermath and its impacts on U.S. stock prices.
He created a code to collect data and organize multiple conclusions. Paschke worked with Professor Allison Bishop and said he wants to "follow in her footsteps."
Paschke concluded that the pandemic had a large impact on the stock market and that "the change in volume [how much a stock was being traded] influenced prices the most, so people were selling off their stocks at a large rate, which crashed the prices."
Clarke's project was titled "Exploring the Feasibility of a Fluorescence Imaging-Based Brain-Machine Interface (BMI)." Her project consisted of trying out different BMI, which are categorized two ways: the first are implantables (devices that touch the brain),which have a higher performance, and the others are non-invasive (not touching the brain), which don't cause tissue damage or raise concerns for biocompatibility (being compatible with living tissue).
"If you are going to choose one then you'd have to sacrifice performance or safety in the process," Clarke explained. She also tried another technique, called optical imaging, which combines the benefits of both implantable and non-invasive BMIs.
Clarke, who also worked with Professor Bishop, started her project in March 2022 and finished it in November. Throughout her research, she has concluded that functional near-infrared spectroscopy imaging has proven feasible.
Due to a lack of funds, Clarke used LEDs instead of a full-time microscope, limiting her imaging to only the top layer of the brain. If she could use multiphoton microscopy, she could penetrate to the neocortex, the part of the brain that is responsible for sensation, language, and movement.
"The brain has so many unanswered questions," she said. "Our consciousness doesn't play as much of a role that we thought it does." In the future, Clarke said she would like to participate in neurosurgery and neuroscience research for clinical trials.
Mau was a semifinalist in the JSHS. Having growth up with a family garden, she decided to research the "impact of Lactobacillus casei on corn, pea, and radish plants in sterilized and non-sterilized soil." Her project involved testing the credibility of claims surrounding this type of bacteria, which was said to enhance plant growth.
"There was just some random guy on the internet saying that his thing is going to help your plants grow," she said. "I was skeptical of it."
Mau experimented with four soil treatments and concluded that adding the bacteria made almost no difference. Mau worked on her experiment for almost the whole month of May, starting during AP season, coming in nearly every day to measure her plants' growth.
"I felt so nervous [about the competition]," Mau said. "There were only like three Midwood students that got in. I got into my room and we presented in front of the judges, and there were ten people from Bronx Science and I was the only Midwood person."
Becoming a semifinalist was a pleasant surprise. "I felt like, wow, I feel so accomplished! I did this," she said.
Her work has played a major role in her career plans."I found an interest in lab research and hands-on experiences," Mau said. "In the future, I know I want to be in the lab. That helped me decide my college and which program at a specific college is going to help me."
The research track is provided to rising tenth-grade students. It's a three-year-long course in which research is incorporated into a student's class schedule. The research class has helped these three Hornets embrace their interests without having to find an internship or wait until college to start exploring.
Mr. Glenn Elert, the science research coordinator, said, "If you want to do something where you get a hands-on, minds-on kind of activity that's going to take some time, you should join research."
"You get to do something you're passionate about," said Ms. Stacy Goldstein, a research and chemistry teacher. "Not what someone tells you to do, but something that you're interested in. You get to spend time on something that is directed by your own creativity."
Juniors Hailey Lau, Ashley Castillo-Mendez, and Batool Kamal analyze brainwaves using an EEG headband. Photo: Susan Louey
Midwood's young scientists brought home not one, but two New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) mini-research grants this year. The two teams of juniors were awarded $300 each to offset the costs of materials needed to pursue their experiments.
Juniors in the science research class submitted proposals to Mr. Glenn Elert to be considered for the application process. They then had to modify their proposals to fit with the guidelines of the grant.
As they worked on their proposals, Mr. Elert and Ms. Stacy Goldstein helped review their applications before they submitted them to a panel of professors from NYIT.
"The funding is meant for students who don't have access to the money to do their project," Ms. Goldstein said. "You have to be very clear on what your project is about and the materials you need."
Mr. Elert stressed the importance of intrinsic motivation. "You have to be someone who wants to sit down and do something that's going to take you a whole year to do," he said.
The grantees this year are pursuing research experiments on illusions and hyper scanning.
Juniors Diana Chen Feng and Jennifer Fan are studying the rubber hand illusion, which is focused on perceptual changes caused by thermal stimulation. In a larger context, they hope that their results will confirm previous studies on the effectiveness of constraint-induced therapy for paresis, which is partial paralysis caused by nerve damage or disease.
"Our mentor, Dr. Shimon Edelman from Cornell University, helped guide us through our project by explaining any details that we did not understand in the research paper," Fan said. "We would set up Zoom meetings once a month to catch him up on how we were doing in our experiment and ask him questions about the procedure."
Using the grant, the duo has purchased facial massager hammers and rubber hands to replicate the rubber hand illusion on a smaller scale.
"When I found out we were one of the recipients of the grant, I was ecstatic and shocked," Feng said.
Feng and Fan sought out ways to repeat the original experiment with more affordable technology.
"We were originally going to buy a TSD191 Thermode and a thermal stimulator from Biopac Systems," Feng said. "However, it was way over our budget. That's why we decided to purchase facial massagers instead."
The grantees received $300 checks from the New York Institute of Technology to go towards their research projects.
The second team of grantees received the award for their study on the effect of friendship and emotional synchrony on brain waves. Juniors Hailey Lau, Ashley Castillo-Mendez, and Batool Kamal plan to use EEG devices, which measure electrical activity, in order to evaluate how synchronized the brains of two close friends are.
The goal of their project is to explain why different people become friends and to investigate the emotional correspondence in friendship.
"The hardest part [of the application] was writing the general abstract of our research," Kamal said. "We needed to make it convincing."
Similar to the other grantees, this trio also worked with a mentor who guided them through picking out the right materials and analyzing the data. Their mentor, Dr. Richard Angle from Columbia University, also helped them manage their time and select their pool of students, Castillo-Mendez said.
With the grant, the group was able to purchase a BrainBit EEG headband that allows them to visualize the frequencies of brain waves in reaction to different stimuli such as emotionally provocative videos.
"When I first found out [about the grant], I was pretty exhilarated," Kamal said. "My group and I were stressed at the time over how to fund the EEG and the software, so winning the grant took a lot of weight off our shoulders."
Since mid-April, the team has been searching for pairs of friends to participate in their research study; the amount of students signing up has increased by the day. Students are still welcome to sign up or catch them in action in room A215 during period nine.
These future scientists will continue their experiments throughout the next few months and eventually submit data to various fairs and competitions in hopes of contributing ground-breaking research to advance the field of science worldwide.
The Midwood Science Fair is almost upon us. Thursday, May 25, 2023 will be here before you know it. Juniors and seniors meet in the Library period 9. Alumni and other registered celebrity judges show up around 2:45–3:00 (a little early is better than a little late). Sophomores be in your assigned spot at the start of period 11. Everyone be prepared for an afternoon of science and celebration.
Students presented to their peers in preparation for the February 4 contest. Photo: Ms. Jenessa Kornaker
Twenty seniors in the science research program entered the St. Joseph's University 25th Annual Research Poster Session on February 4, coming back after a three-year pandemic hiatus to win three awards.
"We've been going to St. Joseph's since the 90s, when they first started it," said Mr. Glenn Elert, the science research coordinator. "It was very small when it started and it was held in the chem lab. But now it's bigger. There were more than 100 projects this year."
High school students from all over New York City presented their research on poster boards to a variety of judges from different fields. Even with fierce competition, seniors Anne Barshay, Samia Farid, Shefa Sharafa, and Edward Chok received honorable mentions for their projects in the health and medicine and animal science fields.
Seniors in the science research class, led by Mr. Elert and Ms. Stacy Goldstein, have been working on their projects since their junior year. The winning seniors worked with mentoring professors from Harvard University, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, and Brooklyn College.
Barshay, who researched "The Association of Dietary Whole Grains with Coronary Heart Disease," found inspiration from her personal experiences.
"When I was in sophomore year, my dad was diagnosed with coronary heart disease," Barshay said. "Previously I thought that high cholesterol caused coronary heart disease, but what he had was phenomenal triglycerides. I was curious as to how triglycerides affect the heart."
Samia Farid and Shefa Sharafa's study of masks and acne was among the winning projects. Photo: Stacy Goldstein
Farid and Sharafa researched "The Effect of Covid 19 PPE Masks on Acne Vulgaris and Atopic Dermatitis" because of their interests in dermatology and acne eczema.
"When we started this project, Covid rates were high and masks and skin care were popular," Sharafa said. "People were trying to compare masks and their effects on skin conditions."
Chok, who researched "Patterns in Monk Parakeet Nest Construction," was inspired by his passion for ornithology. He credited Dr. Grasso, his mentor, for offering him valuable assistance.
"He is unique in that he hosts weekly meetings, like group meetings with other researchers," Chok said. "It gives me advice and steers me towards what to do next in the project."
While there are challenges that come with pursuing research such as the stress of developing the right area of study, Ms. Goldstein and Mr. Elert are there to help, serving as in-school mentors throughout the two years by guiding students through finding topics and conducting experiments.
"Going in, [a student's topic] might not be the thing they first thought they were going to study, but maybe it's even more interesting than what they thought they were going to do," Ms. Goldstein said. "So having an open mind is important."
To prepare for the in-person competition, students practiced by presenting their posters to their peers.
"I learned how to compartmentalize performance anxiety because when I present, I get really nervous," Barshay said. "I had to learn to take a deep breath and jump in the back of my head and just say what I know."
While some seniors continue their research after high school, others simply go into college or the professional world with solid scientific experience under their belts.
"Since we had a really small sample size, which led our whole study to be inconclusive, I would continue this or go into further research by having a more representative sample size and a bigger population to study than high school students," Sharafa said.
"I'm unsure if I want to continue my research, but I think the stuff I learned will help with academic papers," Chok said. "Every time you submit a draft to Mr. Elert, you get sent back a bunch of corrections. So he really helps you iron out the details and what needs to be included."
The current class of juniors will soon be stepping up to the poster challenge, with valuable advice from the award-winning seniors.
"If you have an interest in your research topic, you will be more willing to put the time and energy into it," Farid said. "We learned a lot from the experience."
24 seconds: When Covid 19 emerged, a greater number of people stayed home which resulted in a decline of football enthusiasts at home games. However, a question arises, did the lack of sports fanatics impact home field records? Data from several NFL seasons says the number of rowdy fans or the capacity of a stadium full, did not influence the number of touchdowns scored and allowed.
7 words: Football fans overestimate their importance at games
Warner G. (class of 2023)
The 2023 Midwood Science Fair is only a month away. Right now as you read this the sophomore research students are diligently working on their projects, formulating hypotheses, and plotting the best way to gather and analyze data. The juniors and seniors are sharpening their metaphorical pencils as well as their literal questioning skills. The alumni judges are looking forward to seeing old friends at Midwood once again. The teachers are keeping their students focused. Everyone is coordinating their schedules to make sure they're ready for Thursday, May 25, 2023.
24 seconds: We studied the correlation between food environment and life expectancy in California. Publicly accessible databases and California government-run websites were used. ArcGis was the main tool used to visually display the data on a California map with outlined counties. Relationships were analyzed using Pearson's correlation matrix, displaying a relatively weak association with life expectancy. Outside factors like accessibility to healthy foods and preexisting conditions may have affected the results.
7 words: California diet yields unexpected life expectancy findings
Christina O. and Anna O. (class of 2023)
24 seconds: This study examined the association between whole grain intake and atherosclerotic coronary heart disease (CHD) outcomes by creating an evidence map that compared whole grain consumption by country and whole grain type. The strongest evidence supports the association between whole grains, whole grain breakfast cereals, and bran and the reduced risk of CHD. Further research needs to be conducted for oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and individual whole grains because of inconsistent outcomes.
7 words: Not all whole grains equal healthy hearts.
Anne B. (class of 2023)
24 seconds: Microglia are the brain's primary immune cells, they protect and regulate brain development, maintain neuronal networks, and bury apoptotic cells. External factors like social isolation invoke microglia cells to take on an injurious pathway by over secreting proteins that accumulate and form amyloid plaques that collect between neurons and can disrupt cell function.
7 words: Social isolation is bad for brain cells.
Alexis M. (class of 2023)
The Terra New York City STEM Fair held their finals round at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering this past Sunday, May 26, 2023. This year's fair had 436 applicants from all 5 boroughs. Of the 36 Midwood Science seniors who entered, 2 received extra special recognition.
Mykhaelia C. won Third Place in Neuroscience and received the Brilliant.org Award for her project "Exploring the Feasibility of a Fluorescence Imaging-Based Brain-Machine Interface". Mykhaelia worked worked under the supervision of Dr. Ben Scott at Boston University.
Lucas P. won Third Place in Mathematical Sciences and received the Yale Science and Engineering Association Award for his project "Multivariable analysis on stock price and trade volume trends in the post-COVID-19 stock market shutdown era". Lucas worked under the supervision of Dr. Allison Bishop at Proof Trading, Inc.
Terra Science and Education is a non-profit organization headquartered in Syracuse, New York that sponsors several regional science and engineering fairs in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The Mini-Research Grant Award (MRGA) is an initiative of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) that rewards high school students for scientific research projects that are still in the proposal stage. This year two teams of Midwood Science juniors were selected by NYIT to receive grants totaling $600.
The duo of Diana C.F. and Jennifer F. were awarded $300 for their proposal, "The Effect of Thermal Stimulation on Body Ownership". They will be performing an updated version of the rubber hand illusion — an experiment to understand the body's sense of self.
The trio of Hailey L., Ashley C.M., and Batool K. were awarded $300 for their proposal, "Emotional Synchrony within Friendship". They plan on using EEG devices and a novel technique called hyperscanning to record the activity of multiple brains simultaneously.
On Sunday, February 12, 2023 three Midwood Science seniors presented their work at the semifinals round of the New York City Metro Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). Semifinalists at JSHS are recognized for being among the top 100 science research projects in the five boroughs. This regional event has been hosted at York College in Queens on the second Sunday of February since 2009. 2023 marks its post-pandemic return to an in-real-life competition.
JSHS is a nationwide program sponsored by the US Department of Defense that encourages high school students to conduct original research in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and publicly recognizes them for outstanding achievement. By connecting talented students, their teachers, and research professionals at affiliated symposia and by rewarding research excellence, JSHS aims to widen the pool of trained talent prepared to conduct research and development vital to our nation.
After a three year hiatus, Midwood Science has finally returned to in-real-life competitions. On Saturday, February 4, 2023 Saint Joseph's University hosted its 25th Annual Research Poster Session for High School Students at their 107 year old campus in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Midwood sent 20 seniors with projects in animal science, medicine, public health, psychology, social science, microbiology, neuroscience, engineering, and astronomy. 3 projects received honorable mention.