Three hundred of America's high school seniors, including two from Plainview, were recently honored for their excellence in science as they reached the semifinals of the Intel Science Talent Search (STS). Often considered the "Junior Nobel Prize," the Intel STS is America's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition.
Each of the 300 semifinalists will receive $1,000 in recognition of their scientific achievements. In addition, schools will receive $1,000 per semifinalist to support their science and math programs.
Students were judged on their individual research ability, scientific originality and creative thinking. The research projects cover all disciplines of science, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, social science and biology. All Intel STS entries were reviewed and judged by top scientists from a variety of disciplines.
Samuel John and Alexander Slade are the semi-finalists from Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School.
Samuel John's project was entitled "Differential Effects on Blockage of GABA A Receptors on Inspiratory Phase Fast Oscillatory Rhythms."
"I did a project on the neuronal mechanisms that control breathing," said John. "There was an experiment done in a lab on a rat. We blocked certain receptors on neurons and wanted to see how that would affect the short-time scale rhythms. I then processed all of the data and found, after looking at the graphs, that one peak increased and the other decreased. This showed that there was a switching of the neurons that were being activated and inactivated. This is not what I expected to find."
John worked with mentors Dr. Ki Chon and Dr. Irene Solomon at Stony Brook University. He is interested in pursuing medicine after he graduates in June.
Alexander Slade's project was entitled "The Expression of Connexin 36 in GABAergic Neurons in Respiratory Related Brainstem Regions of Adult Rat."
"I localized proteins within the rat brain stem. The goal was to understand the mechanisms underlying fast oscillatory behavior within the rat's brain and respiratory system," said Slade, who worked with mentor Dr. Irene Solomon at Stony Brook University.
"This was a biology project," he said. "The health implications are not really there yet. We know so little about this right now."
"I am thrilled to have these two Intel semi-finalists," said Melanie Krieger, Director of Research for Plainview-Old Bethpage School District. "This really validates our program. These two students really worked hard, took initiative and enjoyed themselves as they did their research. This really raised the bar for the students in the years to come. Our students in grades 9-12 really work hard and we hope to move this program into the middle school to continue the success there."
The Intel finalists will be announced on Jan. 28.