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Sophomores Generate Surprises at Science Fair

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 by for Media, Science Fair.

Over 100 sophomore research students competed in the annual science fair back in May 2019. The students showcased their findings in front of about 130 judges made up of junior and senior research students, alumni, and Midwood teachers.

The year's first place winners included Nicole Gutierrez '21, Tiffany Ng '21, and Jacklyn Vu '21. Second place winners included Aliyeh Khan '21, Nitu Farhin '21 and Malayka Mudassar '21, and Jessica Serheyeva '21. Lastly, third place went to Ivy Chen '21 and Emily Chen '21, and Walter Rosales '21.

During the science fair, students put up big tri-fold posters outlining their whole experiment. The students waited and presented their work to the judges assigned to them.

"I am incredibly proud seeing how confident the students were in their work while talking to strangers," said Ms. Shaniece Mosley, one of the science research teachers. "It was an amazing experience."

Dr. Stephan Riemersma, one of the science fair judges, said, "They have to be ready to handle questions that they are not ready for, which is a part of the criteria on the rubric."

Traditional photo of the award winner holding their trophy standing in front of their poster board
Nicole Gutierrez '21 researched worm regeneration.

Gutierrez was one of the first place winners of the science fair. Her research dealt with planarian worm regeneration with respect to different magnetic fields. She had three worms in each dish with three magnets under six of the nine petri dishes.

However, science has unexpected challenges. One of Gutierrez's worms was a carnivore, so it ate the other worms in the same dish and messed up her data. In addition, halfway through the experiment, there was a change in the measuring device used.

Still, the results showed that worms had a higher chance of dying when placed in a higher magnetic field, whereas weaker fields prompted radical repair regeneration, thus allowing worm regeneration.

"It was rewarding because you were able to conduct your own experiment," said Gutierrez. "Throughout the entire year, we had to read research papers made by professors. Now we got to conduct experiments and come up with results like those professors."

Similarly, Mr. Glenn Elert, the science research coordinator of the event, said, "[The science fair] allows students to actually do science. In regular science classes, they just learn about traditional scientific methods, facts, and techniques, but you never really do actual science."

Aliyeh Khan '21 was one of the second place winners. Her research focused on the impact of gene expression on the effectiveness of transcription factors. In other words, she analyzed the DNA from the heart and compared it to other organs to see if those transcription factors can be useful in programming.

"Thirty-three percent of all deaths are from cardiovascular disease, which can be solved through regenerative medicine," said Khan. "Body cells can be used as heart cells, which can save a lot of money."

In a way, the science fair allowed students to find solutions to problems that could work to benefit society, while learning to deal with the obstacles that come with getting there.

"Science is a process, but also a way of life," said Mosley. "Things don't always work the way you want, but the important thing is to keep going."

Written by Tiffany Ngo and Sharon Wong (Class of 2020)
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Argus.