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Student Earns First Place Prize At Science Fair

Sunscreen? Check. Beach bag? Not quite. Morgan McCartan, an eighth-grade student at East Woods School, is passionate about the sun, but not because she wants to hang out at the beach and get a tan.

When McCartan was in the fifth grade she read an article about the dangers of ingredients found in sunscreen. Her curiosity was instantly piqued. She was fortunate enough to be attending a summer program run by Jane Powel, founder of OMNILearn Corp, and the scientist and educator responsible for the Advanced Learning Program, a proprietary and high-level science-based program at East Woods School. Now in the eighth grade, McCartan’s curiosity was awarded with a first place prize at the competitive and prestigious Long Island Science and Engineering Fair (LISEF) this past March. Up against 120 middle school competitors who were representing 19 schools, this was no small achievement.

That first summer McCartan studied yeast growth and the impact of different amounts of ultraviolet radiation on yeast. She entered her experiment in the annual East Woods Science Symposium and took first place. This endorsement served to further motivate McCartan to take her research to the next level. She spent the next year testing the individual ingredient retinyl palmitate on the yeast, and what she learned shocked her: Not only did the retinyl palmitate cause the yeast to dry up, but it did not protect it from the UV rays.

In seventh grade McCartan entered LISEF with Riley Hughes, then an East Woods eighth-grader who is currently completing her freshman year at Philips Academy Andover. Their project tested many different ingredients in sunscreen such as oxybenzone and zinc oxide to observe the effects on the yeast growth. The two students also created their own sunscreen with all-natural ingredients that do not harm the skin but that do provide protection from UV rays. Although they did not win the competition, McCartan was committed to continuing her scientific research on this topic.

 As Jeanne Lore, upper school science teacher at East Woods, said, “It isn’t often you find a student in the middle school environment that has as much dedication and passion for science as Morgan McCartan.”

This year McCartan made some adjustments to her research project and studied the effects of ultraviolet radiation on planaria regeneration. Planaria have stem cells similar to humans which allowed McCartan to draw conclusions about how the human cell regeneration process is impacted by ultraviolet radiation. McCartan cut many planaria into two pieces and exposed them to different amounts of UV radiation. She measured this by using an ultraviolet transilluminator, which is a form of artificial UV radiation. Her results showed that the planaria exposed to larger amounts of ultraviolet radiation were not able to regenerate. This led her to conclusions about how our stems may not regenerate properly from the high amounts of UV radiation we receive on a daily basis.

The next step in McCartan’s long road to finding a safe and effective sunscreen is her continued research on this topic. As a first place prize winner at LISEF, McCartan has been invited to apply for a spot at the Broadcom MASTERS Competition in Washington, DC.

 As Powel said, “Morgan can persevere. She knows how to deal with adversity. She is also one of the most well-rounded, kind and even-tempered people I’ve met. She flourished in the environment at East Woods, and I have no doubt that science will continue to be a driving force in the way she thinks. She has what it takes to succeed in the 21st century.”

Lore added, “Morgan has been a pleasure to teach and mentor. I am certain I will be reading her published works in the years to come.”

News

This holiday season, Oyster Bay will once again be home to unique, homemade, scrumptious confections from The Chocolate Lady, in the form of a mobile chocolate boutique set up at Buckingham Variety Store on Audrey Avenue. She arrived on Sunday and plans on staying throughout the holidays, and possibly longer.

“I have been developing this concept for the last year and a half and am excited to be coming home to Oyster Bay for this year’s holiday launch,” says Lee Perrotta, aka The Chocolate Lady, who had her shop across the street from Buckingham’s for about five years before she was forced to shut her doors on Christmas Eve in 2012 due to excessive water damage at the rental space.

The Raise The Roof Concert, held at Christ Church on Nov. 9, was an intergenerational event to benefit the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay’s seniors.

Board member Suzanne Paolucci explained the center’s wish to get iPods for the seniors as a source of musical therapy. She brought the idea to the center from a talk by social worker Dan Cohen, the founder of Music & Memory. He has produced a film, Alive Inside, that tells the story of music as being restorative. Music is like therapy for the elderly, in particular for those with dementia, as it has been shown to awaken memories of happier times in life, when energy and enthusiasm were boundless.


Sports

Long Island Lutheran High School senior Samantha Horton of Oyster Bay signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Siena College and compete on the Girls Division I Lacrosse Team in the goaltender position next year. Samantha will be receiving a full athletic scholarship. Horton is pictured with her family.

On the weekend of Nov. 8, the Oyster Bay High School Boys and Girls Cross Country teams traveled to the State University of New York at Canton just a few miles from the Canadian border to compete in the New York State Cross Country Championships.

Alex Tosi became the first Bayman since Joe Jazwinski and Justin Nakrin (2008) to become All-State, placing 16th with a time of 16:53. Most runners ran about 20 seconds slower than their Bethpage times because of the muddy conditions on the course. Tosi’s time was basically equivalent to his best Bethpage time, as he powered through the toughest parts of the race. He led the Baymen to a seventh place finish in the Class C race, an improvement from their 11th place finish last year, which ties the highest place at the New York State Championships of a Baymen team since 2009.


Calendar

Annual Turkey Trot

Thursday, Nov. 27

Turkey Detox Workshop

Friday, Nov. 28

East Norwich Holiday

Sunday, Nov. 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com