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Science Whiz Kids Strut Their Stuff

Everyone knows that the Dalers can deliver the goods when it comes to nearly any sport, but word has spread that there is yet another field where the students of Farmingdale High School are delivering hard-hitting results: the field of science.

Science Research Advisor Laurie Sheinwald said the school’s Science Research Club was started in response to Farmingdale’s public reputation solely as a school for athletics. She said that they wanted to show that they have an impressive scientific community of students as well.

“We’ve always had a small, strong science core,” Sheinwald said. “But more and more, we’ve been getting involved in the science competitions and fairs, and Farmingdale is finally being recognized for what we have here.”

According to Sheinwald. the school’s annual Science Symposium, was the district’s way of allowing the Research Club members a chance to strut their stuff for the public after a year’s worth of hard work and research.

“We’ve been holding the Symposium for the past 15 years now,” she said. “It showcases all the student’s projects...some of the Research Club students just work within the high school doing their experiments, and others will do them on their own, while others are accepted into very special, competitive programs outside of the school, where they do fantastic, award-winning work.”

The Science Symposium, held in the high school’s common area, featured the members of the Research Club each show displays containing information on their varied and complex experiments and the results. In addition, several seniors held detailed presentations in the library on some of their projects as well.

During the event, Farmingdale High School senior and Class of 2014 Valedictorian Elijah Mas presented his findings in his project entitled “air and sound, density’s effect on soundwave propagation.”

He said that while he has been studying astrophysics during his time in the Research Club, his presentation was an unofficial experiment that he simply conducted in his own home.

“I’ve been playing guitar since 2009, and I wanted to deal with everyday things and the changes in how they sound when exposed to temperature and humidity variations, so I set this experiment to something that I love to do, which is music,” he said. “My father and I bounced some ideas off of one another, and started it towards the end of winter, and we conducted a lot of trials. There wasn’t a significant trend that we showed, but that’s okay. An experiment is still perfectly valid if you’re thorough with your methods.”

Mas said that the message that he wanted to impart upon the younger members of the Research Club is that science can be accessible to anyone, as long as they go into it with the right mindset.

“A lot of these kids are still undecided about what they want to do. Science is interesting to them, but perhaps they’re not as overly passionate about it,” Mas said. “It’s nice to show them that not everything has to be this huge deal. That you can do a simple, down-to-Earth experiment in the comforts of what you see every day.”

The future is already looking bright for Mas; he’s set to begin his studies in astrophysics at Yale University come the fall.

Farmingdale junior Michael Callahan is a young up-and-coming scientific hopeful. His project, entitled “specifying the apterous protein-coding mutation in Drosophila Melanogaster,” involved the study of genetically altered flightless fruit flies.

“The provider that sells fruit flies to the school offers various types, including flightless mutations,” Callahan said. “I was wondering what they do to make those flies flightless, so this experiment just set out to verify the location of where they made that mutation that caused the flies to have defective flight capabilities.”

Katherine Vera was able to participate in the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Partner for the Future program with her presentation, titled “cell-to-cell trafficking: plasmodesmata-located proteins may influence phenotype in Arabidopsis, dealt with some of the biological processes of life itself.

“I started with the Science Research Club in the ninth grade, and it’s basically allowed me to look into science outside of the classroom... in the real world,” she said. “It’s allowed me to pursue biology in a different perspective, and I was really able to fall in love with it, mostly because it allows me to answer questions that I’m interested in asking and finding the answer to.”

Vera will be attending Stamform University in the fall, where she will be studying bio-engineering while on a pre-Med track.

Sheinwald said that the Science Research Club is opening a lot of eyes on campus; it’s showing students that there’s more than one way to achieve your dreams and goals.

“More and more kids are saying, ‘wow, I don’t have to play a sport.

I can be a superstar if I learn science.’ And that’s so important,” Sheinwald said.