Judges pick Science Fair top winners

JUDY CARD PHOTO| Senior Division medalists and Best of Fair winner Christopher Doyle (center).

When the doors opened at 6:30 p.m. last Friday, parents, friends and well-wishers swarmed into the Shelter Island School gym to take a look at more than 50 projects entered in the school’s 48th annual Science Fair.

Entries in the Junior Division — grades 7 and 8 — raised questions about whether playing video games is bad for the heart, where the most germs are in the classroom and how salty a sea has to be to float an egg. Meanwhile 9th and 10th graders in the Senior Division looked at how cows fight cancer, the effect of peppermint on reaction time, the hydrodynamics of hull design and whether music can affect free throw shooting.

The projects were judged during the day by a panel of experts drawn from area schools and research facilities including  Brookhaven National Labs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Promptly at 7 p.m. science faculty member Dan Williams, standing in for his colleague Sharon Gibbs, the fair’s coordinator who had an emergency and was unable to be there, opened the award ceremonies. He introduced School Superintendent Michael Hynes, who said he had been to any number of other science fairs but “was very impressed” with the quality of this one. On a less serious note, and to cheers from the bleachers, he also recognized 8th grader Will Garrison, who scored the winning basket, with seconds to spare, in Thursday’s home game against Montauk.

Then Mr. Williams got down to business, introducing the blue ribbon winners and medalists in both divisions while science teacher Ann Marie Galasso handed out the awards.

Best of Fair honors were saved until last when it was announced that plaques for these two top awards went to Lucia Mulligan, 7th grade, for her project, “Ant ‘n Roll,” and to the Senior Division’s Christopher Doyle for providing scientific substance to the question, “Please Turn Off All Electrical Devices?”

The following Junior Division students and their projects were selected by the judges as medalists: Caitlin Binder (Which Color?), Bianca Evangelista (Where Are the Most Germs in a Classroom?), Luke Gilpin (Pumpkin Mania), Madison Hallman (How do Food Wrappings Affect the Spoilage of Apples?), Sarah Lewis (In What Substance Will Iron Rust the Fastest?), Emily Strauss (Which Species Has the Cleanest Mouth?), Elizabeth Larsen (The Stroop Effect), Amelia Mulligan (Hovercrafts), Evan Thilberg (Crazy Crystal Creations) and Will Garrison (HIV Protease — a joint project with two Senior Division medalists).

Earning blue ribbons for their efforts were: Nicholas Cogan (Nothing but Net), Lindsey Gallagher (To Fall or Not to Fall), Jack Lang (The Brains Behind “Where’s Waldo?”), Peder Larsen (Do Video Gamers Have Faster Reflexes Than Non-Gamers?), Isabella Sherman (What’s the Difference in Grass Growth When Chemical or Natural Fertilizers Are Used?), Sydney Clark (The Perfect Jump), Melissa Frasco (Sun Printing), Nicolette Frasco (Does Age Affect Human Reaction Time?), Julia Labrozzi (Are They Lying?), Evi Saunders (Visual vs. Audio Memory) and Sophia Strauss (That’s a Real Smile … Or Is It?).

Senior Division medalists included: Kelly Colligan and Elizabeth Dunning (HIV Protease), Jack Kimmelmann (The Effects of Heat and Light on Fly Reproduction), Peter Kropf (Nothing But Nut: Curing Peanut Allergies), Henry Lang (Hull Design and Hydrodynamics), Colibri Lopez (Drosophila and Alcohol), Kenna McCarthy (Organic vs. Store Bought), Connor Corbett Rice (Which Sugar Causes Yeast to Give Off the Most CO2?), Richard Ruscica (Cancerous or Not?) and Tom Card, an Intel Science research participant (How Cows Fight Cancer).

Two 9th graders were awarded blue ribbons: William Boeklen (Boom! It’s Outta Here) and Tristan Wissemann (Does Music Affect Free Throw Shooting?).

Even after three months of work putting their projects together, the competition isn’t over yet for some students. Top entries in each division will be entered in the Long Island Science Congress next spring, where over the years Shelter Island’s participants have earned a total of 691 awards, making Shelter Island one of the top-ranked schools participating in the Congress.

In addition to ribbons, medals and plaques, more than two dozen local businesses and community organizations contributed over $2,800 this year in cash, gift certificates and other prizes.

And then after the very long day, students and their families broke down the exhibits, packed them up and headed into the parking lot for home.