The Home of Midwood Science Research

Quarantine Blog: Staff spotlights

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

What are Staff Spotlights? The Student Council decided to conduct interviews with Midwood's staff to make the students feel connected to the school and strengthen the online Hornet community. The idea came after a video conference with Mr. McDonnell on April 16. Before the meeting, we asked students online if they had any questions they wanted us to bring up to the Principal.

While some pertinent questions were addressed, we also asked some mundane questions, like, what shows are you binging? We were amused by the answers, I mean, what do we really know about the people we see everyday?

The following week we conducted our very first interview with Mr. Padula who volunteered to participate. It was obvious that even Mr. Padula missed the kids. He even followed up with a thank you email! The first video has received comments like, "This is better than the Kardashians". I'm excited to speak to more teachers about how they're passing time and sharing these moments as IGTVs with the rest of the community.

Tanisa Rahman (Class of 2020)

Midwood Staff Spotlights title page

Quarantine Blog: A gift

Posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

Wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser in a home hallway

This is one of four Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispensers gifted to my household by my father. This dispenser is located between my room and my brothers' room on the second floor of my home.

For a little under a week during the beginning of this unkind quarantine I suffered from a harsh cold full of hot flashes, congestion, seemingly endless sneezes and restless nights. My mother, a cautious RN now working from home, forced me into a quarantine inside of a quarantine. But on this day she cheerfully called me from my personal isolation ward (my room) to show me our newest home installation — this Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispenser. Our laughter instantly filled the hallway, quickly followed by my sneezes which was even more quickly followed by me being shoved back into isolation.

I am better now, thankfully.

Serena Duran (Class of 2020)

Quarantine Blog: Food for thought

Posted on Saturday, April 18, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

Ever since the quarantine started on March 15th, all of us have been staying home for a little more than a month now. Every day I hear ambulances, FDNY and police sirens, the "wee-woo" approaching my block with a Doppler effect. Most of the time, I'm able to see ambulance trucks right outside of my house, tending to my neighbors. In order to avoid a build up of fear, from thinking too much about the virus, I started learning how to cook and bake. I've even started to pick up my guitar and learn some tunes from Yousician! This quarantine has turned many couch potatoes like myself, into future MasterChef contestants, musicians, artists, housekeepers, computer science geniuses and more. Staying at home has made me feel thankful for all of the essential workers across the US, especially in NYC. I know that NYC has had the hardest hit from COVID-19, while states like Pennsylvania are at a slightly less impact, as said from my friends back in PA. However, I know for a fact that we will all be able to fight against this virus and eventually return to our normal lives post-quarantine. Continue social distancing and wear masks!

Food pic Food pic Food pic Food pic Food pic

Emily Ly (Class of 2020)

Quarantine Blog: Virus cleans the earth of human impact

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

Quarantine, lockdown, and social distancing are currently enforced in many countries around the world. This has caused a slowdown of the economy as less people become employed, less items are produced and consumed, less services are required, and less people roam the streets. Amidst the silence, nature still speaks. As we limit our consumption of products, our production of waste, and our outdoor activities, nature has moved into our place. The earth has continued to adapt in our absence.

Air pollution has decreased drastically as factories produce less, transportation falls to a minimum, and powerplants cater to less businesses. Cities have been seen to clear of smog which reintroduces health benefits that couldn't have existed otherwise. The consequences of illegal wildlife trading and bushmeat consumption are now quite clear, reducing their prevalence and popularity. Wild boar, turkeys, deer, goats, monkeys, coyotes, pumas, and alligators have been spotted exploring the blocks. Humpback whales have been found closer to the shores of France and fish were seen to navigate the canals of Venice. Notwithstanding the destructive effects of the virus, the indirect impact it has had on nature should be cherished.

Henry Hua (Class of 2020)

Tulips blooming Manhattan skyline with clear skies

24/7 Lecture: Biosolids

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

Biosolids in a Ziploc bag

24 seconds: Biosolids are one of the world's most renewable yet underutilized organic wastes. Biosolids have numerous benefits, most notably its potential contributions to agriculture through soil application. With the inclusion of lime powder, it can help stabilize conditions of biosolids such as pathogen concentration, density, and other physical characteristics vital to helping further enhance biosolids' benefits when applied to soils. Biosolids also has taken up a significant amount of space in our landfills. As the human population continues to increase, so is the demand for available spaces for housing, businesses, agriculture, etc. The last thing we need is to speed up that demand by increasing the amount of landfill space needed for biosolids. Instead, why not put them towards productive use? For agriculture! Biosolids allows for a more sustainable approach towards managing municipal waste while improving the environment and agricultural output.

7 Words: Biosolids: the future of enhancing agricultural growth

Esther Lee (Class of 2020)

24/7 Lecture: Active solar energy

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

Cartoon of a solar powered house

24 seconds: Active solar energy is a common source of renewable energy that is cleaner and more cost effective than fossil fuels. Active solar energy uses mechanical systems, such as photovoltaic cells, to store and convert energy from the sun into electricity or heat. These systems can be easily installed, requiring little to no maintenance, and will provide for years of solar benefits. This energy can be produced every day, even on cloudy days, and the use of the storage units within the system allows for the excess solar energy to be stored for later use. While there are extremely low levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases being emitted during the installation process, no air pollutants are released afterwards. The reliance on fossil fuels and non-renewable resources can lessen as we convert to cleaner energy sources, creating a cleaner environment

7 Words: Brighten up the world with solar energy.

Jessica Zheng (Class of 2020)

Quarantine Blog: Monk parakeets break the internet

Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

I work in Dr. Grasso's lab at Brooklyn College studying monk parakeets. Once a week I would go on parrot patrol where I would take the bus from Brooklyn College to the colony on Avenue O near 65th Street where I would record and photograph the nests and parrot activity. Afterwards I would head back to the lab and put all the data on the computer. On other days we would have long meetings that would go on for around 2 hours where we all discussed our research projects. Overall the time that I spent in the lab would be equivalent to one school day.

However, when all schools were closed and quarantine was enacted we had to make some quick changes. Dropbox has always been an important part of the lab where we would upload our slides, but now we can't live without it. Dropbox is now where we upload slides, score videos, and save and share our work with Dr. Grasso. Two times a week we have meetings with Dr. Grasso on Zoom which are longer than when we were in Brooklyn College. As a result of quick thinking everyone is still able to continue conducting their experiments.

Meghan Stern (Class of 2020)

Quarantine Blog: Time of death: 11:24 AM

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

Three weeks ago my grandmother went out for some fresh air. Little did we know that those few minutes of being outside would be the end of her. A few days after going out for a walk my grandmother had developed a severe fever. On March 16, my dad had taken her to the hospital where they ran several tests including the one for the coronavirus. They brought her home where she had to isolate herself from the rest of us. Over the next couple of days she started to lose her appetite, had trouble breathing and was not talking to anyone. Deep down we all feared the same thing. On Sunday, March 22, my father had just come home from her house when my aunt had called saying that she was having cold sweats. She was taken to the hospital and the next thing we knew she was brain dead, put onto a ventilator and was gone by the following morning.

It all happened so fast. I don't think any of us had expected these past several weeks to go by like this. It is heartbreaking to see the increase in casualties everyday. You know no one really ever expects this kind of thing to happen to anyone and once it does it really hits you hard. I know we are all scared, but we must be strong. I know we all wanna go outside and enjoy the nice weather but trust me don't. Don't risk it. We all have to do our part by staying inside. I have faith and I have hope that we are going to get through this, together. Stay safe everyone.

Noor Mohammad (Class of 2020)

24/7 Lecture: Betaine

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

24 seconds: Betaine is a supplement that can prevent the adverse effects of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a condition faced by many pregnant women. Women with GDM transfer an excess amount of nutrients to their fetus via the placenta which increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes for the baby in the future. The supplementation of betaine can reduce the amount of nutrients transported to the fetus by reducing the expression of Ki67 and angiogenesis. A lower Ki67 expression implies there are fewer cells and a lower expression of angiogenesis implies there are fewer capillaries. The reduction in placental cells and capillaries in the placenta reduces the transport of nutrients to the baby. As a result, this can reduce the prevalence of the births of unhealthy babies from women who are diagnosed with GDM.

7 Words: Betaine is a vital supplement during pregnancy.

Stella Ruan (Class of 2020)

Betaine molecule + placenta cartoon

24/7 Lecture: Multitasking against academic performance and SMD

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

Cartoon zombie pursuing a cell phone

24 seconds: When it comes to multitasking, the use of social media is increasing among adolescents. The reliance on social media causes adolescents to experience more online activity, leading to social media addiction known as Social Media Disorder (SMD). Frequent media multitasking is disadvantageous on adolescents' academic performance. It has shown to be continuously distracting since the individual's attention is on the media while performing the academic task, causing frequent switching between the primary task and the media. Ultimately, this constant switching results in poor performance and hinders cognitive memory. When adolescents often participate in media multitasking, they become habitual to the continuous shift between the media and non-media related activities at hand and eventually deprive their ability to concentrate. The correlation between the motivations for media use among adolescents, and the development of addiction raises concerns on its impact on how they go about their daily activities.

7 Words: Do your homework, you social media zombie!

Kelly Guan (Class of 2020)

24/7 Lecture: COVID-19 and mental health

Posted on Sunday, April 12, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

The mind as a puzzle

24 seconds: Mental health problems among Americans have increased dramatically in recent years, especially among the youth. Various factors such as child development which occur in the context of family, peers, school relations, and culture influence mental health. These factors play an important role in the psychological and social adjustment of adolescents. It is important to address mental health problems to spread awareness about it and further analyze the reasons for the increase in the rate of mental health problems. Research on mental health has proven to be necessary especially with the recent outbreak of COVID-19. The virus has not only impacted the United States financially, but it has also led to stress, fear, depression, and anxiety amongst Americans. During these times, it is necessary to focus on mental health as it has severe impacts on one's thoughts, behaviors, emotions, and overall well-being.

7 words: Don't let COVID-19 ruin your mental health.

Jessica Lin (Class of 2020)

Quarantine Blog: School lunch to the rescue

Posted on Friday, April 10, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

In light of the rapid spread and dangerous symptoms of COVID-19, Mayor DeBlasio still fought to keep NYC public schools open until it was absolutely necessary. The humongous school system not only helped keep track of minors throughout the boroughs, giving parents time to work, but it also kept millions of children and families fed with nutritious meals each day. Now that the official lockdown has begun, these meals are the only thing I leave my home for. I never expected to rely on the school system, and as I walk to my old elementary school it's strange to see how so much could change within a month. Just a few weeks ago, there was a kind crossing guard and now I'm not allowed into the school building so a security guard has to pass me the meals for my siblings and I.

Back home, eating the nostalgia-filled lunches with my family makes me think of the last time I had one, two years ago. It's as if I'm sitting in the school cafeteria with my family eating pretzels and PBJ sandwiches on the nights my parents can't cook dinner. These meals have brought my family together in vulnerable times in the past and will continue to until this virus is controlled.

Defne Sener (Class of 2020)

The contents of several school lunches displayed on a table

24/7 Lecture: Parental bonding

Posted on Thursday, April 9, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

Parent and child watching a cartoon on a laptop computer

24 seconds: How a child is raised can heavily impact the rest of their lives. Parental bonding nurtures the mentality of an individual, and as a result contributes towards how one perceives themselves. There are generally 3 categories of parenting including authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive, which cover a wide range of commitment levels. People from different backgrounds are often raised differently, which in turn can affect how well individuals bond with their parents. This is not only affected by individual ethics, but varying environmental factors may contribute to these differences as well. In most cases, the more a parental figure bonds with their child, their body awareness, and in turn, their ability to recognize bodily cues increases. In addition to this, the child often becomes more in control of their mind and emotions as they approach young adulthood.

7 words: Building connections can encourage greater mental health.

Ashley Chin (Class of 2020)

24/7 Lecture: Aluminum-sulfur batteries

Posted on Thursday, April 9, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

24 seconds: Al-S (aluminum-sulfur) batteries are a promising candidate for the next generation of energy storage devices. Unlike lithium-ion batteries that are commonly used in portable devices such as smartphones, Al-S batteries can hold more charge, are capable of enduring more charge cycles without losing effectiveness, and have less tendency to explode. They also has a big cost advantage since aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth's crust so extraction will be way less expensive than it is for lithium. Although still in the development phase, significant progress has been made.

7 words: Aluminum-sulfur is your next iPhone battery.

Hong Wei Chen (Class of 2020)

Test cell
Al-S test cell built by Midwood Science seniors Hong Wei Chen and Kevin Ng

24/7 Lecture: Sir Charles Wyville Thomson

Posted on Saturday, April 4, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

24 seconds: One important figure in Ocean Science is Sir Charles Wyville Thomson (1830–1882), a Scottish historian and marine zoologist. In his book The Depths of the Sea, he details his expeditions aboard the HMS Lightning and HMS Porcupine, discovering that animal life existed below 650 fathoms (1200 meters) and that deep-sea temperatures varied considerably. More famously, Thomson is known for being the chief scientist aboard the HMS Challenger. Under his supervision, the vessel traveled 70,000 nautical miles and cataloged over 4,000 unknown species. On March 23, 1875, Thomson and his crew recorded a sounding 4,475 fathoms deep in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Through modern soundings and later expeditions, scientists have discovered that this area is actually the southern end of the Marianas Trench, 6,012 fathoms deep (10,994 m), and the deepest point of the Earth. Out of respect for Thomson and his crew's accomplishments, this area is now known as the Challenger's Deep.

7 Words: Thomson discovered new ocean depths and species.

Idrees Ilahi (Class of 2020)

Sir Charles Wyville Thomson. Stipple engraving by C.H. Jeens, 1876.

24/7 Lecture: Menhaden

Posted on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

Snowy egret grabbing menhaden out of the water

24 seconds: Menhaden (a.k.a. "Bunker"), a small filter-feeding species of fish, have long been exploited in NYC waters through the use of purse seine nets that encircle and capture entire schools. Along with being a major prey species for a variety of marine organisms, menhaden are used as bait and to create fish meal, a highly processed food for livestock. Recent legislation in New York State banned the use of purse seines to protect menhaden, allowing for the return of wildlife such as whales, striped bass, and seabirds to New York waters.

7 words: Conservation is best achieved through legislative action.

Tristan Ene (Class of 2020)

A school of menhaden

24/7 Lecture: Forest communities

Posted on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

24 seconds: Though one would not necessarily associate the word "community" with trees, there is strong evidence to suggest a lively community exists within the world of trees. Unlike humans who communicate through senses, trees communicate through fungal networks that interconnect with their roots. These networks allow trees to send food, water, and distress signals to other trees. If an insect starts eating the leaves of a tree, the tree slowly kicks into survival mode, releasing toxins to make the leaves bitter and sending signals through the fungal networks to nearby trees to do the same. The fungi even find sources of mineral nutrients in the soil for the tree to consume. However, the relationship between trees and fungi is not one-sided. The fungi demands the trees share the sugar it creates through photosynthesis. The fungal network is crucial to enabling the Wood Wide Web, as it transports these daily conversations throughout the forest. This healthy exchange is shown to increase the resilience of the forest as a whole.

7 words: Diverse forests are better at weathering storms.

Suraiya Knoja (Class of 2020)

Looking out the rear window of a car at a forest

24/7 Lecture: Remote learning

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

24 seconds: Being that New York City is under a state of emergency due to COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo made the decision to close the largest school system in the nation — the NYC Department of Education (DOE). With this, students and teachers have resorted to remote learning through media platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom, and Skype. This online transition has faced a few bumps in the road such as students in poverty who have limited access to the internet. As per the New York Times, the NYC DOE has been providing technology but some students must put a halt to their learning due to not enough computers being available for all. Will students retain what they learn online as compared to a traditional classroom setting?

7 words: No Wi-Fi? Well there goes my GPA.

Gloria Glenn (Class of 2020)

Cartoon repesenting networked devices

Quarantine Blog: Lab conditions: Before and now

Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2020 by for Quarantine Blog.

Cartoon drawing of a lab rat

For the last 2 years, I have been working in Dr. Delamater's lab at Brooklyn College. Unlike many psychology labs, this lab features behavioral experiments from Ivan Pavlov's times in the late 1800s. I would conduct these experiments in operant conditioning chambers with Long-Evans rats as my subjects. The first set of experiments I worked on focused on the phenomenon of extinction. Recently, I finished an experiment about associative memory and how it affects behavior. Usually, my lab would have different people such as my mentor, the graduate students, and other high school students who come in and work on projects. Although it would be rare for all of us to be in the lab at the same time, now it's impossible. Currently, the lab is practicing social distancing and only my mentor, graduate student, and animal caretaker are allowed in at different times. High school students such as myself are not allowed in the lab currently, in order to limit the risk of spreading the virus.

Jasmine Huang (Class of 2020)

24/7 Lecture: NAMs

Posted on Friday, March 27, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

The branches of the lungs

24 seconds: Like various other parts of our body our lungs become inflamed from diseases like influenza. This inflammation prompts an immune response in the human body. The response: macrophages. Macrophages are types of white blood cells that engulfs substances that can cause harm such as bacteria and viruses. In this scientific paper, a very interesting type of macrophage was researched on. These macrophages express CD169 and are developmentally and transcriptionally different from another type of macrophage called alveolar macrophages. It has been found that CD169 producing macrophages are commonly found within the bronchovascular tree and these specific macrophages are called nerve- and airway- associated macrophages (NAMs). The paper states that NAMs may aid more in inflammation regulation while alveolar macrophages my aid more in viral clearance.

7 words: Inflammation needs to go and NAMs help.

Lameya Rahman (Class of 2020)

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