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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

With a general discontent about the view-blocking pedestrian railings recently installed along West Shore Road, the discussion at the Oyster Bay Civic Association meeting on Sept. 18 focused on the possibility of having the road designated as a scenic highway.

This concept was suggested by Gregory Druhak of Centre Island, a regular traveler along West Shore Road, who said, “I believe this is the most scenic drive on Long Island west of the Hamptons, perhaps on all of Long Island itself, and it is not being treated as such. I feel we are being given the Lefferts Boulevard [down by JFK airport] expressway extension instead. For all you can see, it might as well be the Belt Parkway below the fence instead of Oyster Bay. This is wrong.”  

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.


Sports

The Falcon Pride Athletic Booster Club and a generous group of alumni have hit one out of the park with their assistance in upgrading the high school softball field.

Throughout the process, former and current Falcon softball players worked together for a good cause.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts:

The Peanuts hosted the Uniondale Knights. It was hard fought battle and the Generals gave their all. Terrific performances by JR Hill, Joseph Travaglia and Kody Gehnrich The defense played strong. The Peanuts are working hard and the results are paying off.

7- and 8-year-old Midgets:

The 7- and 8-year-old team did battle with the Floral Park Titans. In a tough battle, the Generals’ offense was powered by a big offensive line led by Declan Trainor, Joseph Gotti, Owen Parlante and Jake Hargrave. In an impressive hurry-up offense, the General’s Jayden Marshall scored a last second touchdown to end the first half.


Calendar

Plein Art Exhibit

Wednesday, Oct. 1

College Discussion

Monday, Oct. 6

Collecting Manuscripts

Thursday, Oct. 9



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