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Science Smarts

Fifteen Mineola School District students were commended for various science projects on Thursday, June 5. 


“I’m very proud to have with us high school science research students that have been working on their projects, some for two years,” District Superintendent Michael Nagler said.


Mineola has stepped up its science program over the last few years and most notably boasted its first Intel Semifinalist in 2011: Bethanne Bartscherer.


“Science research is something we strongly believe in,” Mineola High School Principal Ed Escobar said. “We’ve had this program for several years.”


Science research director Ellen McGlade-McCulloh helped breathe new life into the program.


“These kids have done amazing things,” she said. “They’ve worked incredibly long hours, above and beyond what was needed. They’ve worked in university labs, background work off site. This group has received a lot of awards at various competitions.”


Senior Ray Agrelo’s project, which dealt with harvesting electricity from the wind for use in cars, won honorable mention at the recent Long Island Engineering Science Fair and second place for earth, space and energy at the Long Island Science Congress (LISC). He was also nominated for the New York State Congress Honors Award. Agrelo will attend Purdue University in September.


“Most modern day vehicles, the interior of a car uses 2 amps of power so if you have [my fan] mounted in front of a vehicle, you could in theory, reduce the amount of fuel used.”


Salutatorian Joyce Hwang and Michelle Serna worked at Winthrop-University Hospital, studying national trends in spine surgery and received achievement awards at LISC.


“We found that spinal fusions have gotten more expensive over the past 15 years,” Serna said. “Also, less people are going home shortly after surgery so they are becoming less effective.”


Valedictorian Kristen Sze-Tu worked for a neuroscience group at SUNY Old Westbury studying the affects of pesticides and their hold on Parkinson’s patients. She’ll attend Washington University in St. Louis in the fall.


Sze-Tu won the Science Teachers Association of New York State Award and received high honors in the Nassau Division of the LISC.


“Basically it’s the regulation of morphine that’s produced in our body and how this reduced the effects of a common pesticide called rotenone and what it might mean,” she said. “Rotenone is known to cause Parkinson’s Disease, so hopefully the findings of this study leads to something to help combat the disease.”


For more photos from science research commendations, go to