Technical 12 Named Finalists in STEM Research Challenge

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Twelve East Islip High School students were selected as finalists in the school’s debut STEM Research Challenge, with six going on to win prizes. The competition was offered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Education’s Long Island Section and Life Members Affinity Group, who provided financial support for the project.

The STEM Challenge – designed to encourage high schoolers to pursue careers involving science, technology, engineering, medicine and math – required each participating student to write a technical paper on the subject “STEM Research: Scientific Exploration in the Digital Age with Micro/Nano Technology.” The research papers had to be based on current activities and developments being pursued by scientific communities around the world, creating a strong focus on current and developing science.

“This was a major incentive for students to become familiar with current scientific disciplines,” said East Islip’s guidance director, Israel Malinowitzer. “With the continuing advancements in STEM fields, it was important not only to provide an expansion of recognition of the vast scientific endeavors in the many fields, but also reveal the educational requirements for those activities. With the large array of scientific and technical research journals and publications available online, students had a broad selection of current research topics to examine, and were encouraged to express their opinions about their findings, as well as highlight possible careers in developing fields.”

Of the 29 papers that were submitted, 12 were selected by the school faculty as finalists – six representing the Lower Division (grades 9 and 10), and six representing the Upper Division (grades 11 and 12). These 12 papers were then reviewed by a panel of judges from academia and business, chaired by Marjaneh Issapour, a professor of electrical engineering and computer engineering technology at Farmingdale State College. The papers were judged on the novelty of the work, relating to STEM concepts; the impact of the work on society; the goals, objectives and complexity of the work; the significance of the findings, results and conclusions of the work; and its overall organization. 

In the Lower Division of freshmen and sophomores, Kylie Goess won first place for “Chemistry Trick Paves Way for Safer Diabetes Medication,” earning her a $500 prize; Emily Mahoney won second for “Nanotechnology Used to Cure Cancer Without Harming Healthy Cells,” earning a $250 prize; and James Smalley won third place for “Nanoparticles Used in New Insulin Make Life Easier for Diabetic Patients,” earning him a $100 prize.

In the Upper Division of juniors and seniors, Phoebe Tedesco won first place for “Color Blindness and Biotechnology,” earning her a $500 prize; Grace Vaca won second place for “Nano/Micro Technology and Parkinson’s Disease,” earning a $250 prize; and Asma Malik won third for “Nanotechnology Engineers Use Electrospinning to Create the Super Condom,” earning a $100 prize.

Certificates of merit were awarded to the remaining six finalists: Cierra Colon, Michaela Fehn, Emily Fishman, Stephanie Milito, Ran Soto and Kenny Terwilliger.

IEEE representative Lou Luceri presented the top six student winners with their prizes in an April 20 ceremony at the school library. All of the 12 participating students were honored at the May 17 meeting of the East Islip Board of Education.