Around the Island

Judges select 2009 Science Fair winners

Senior Division Medalists.

When the doors to the school gym opened on Friday night, a crowd of parents and friends was on hand to visit more than 75 student projects on display at the 45th annual Shelter Island School Fair. Students in the Junior Division (grades 7 and 8) displayed projects on topics ranging from the best octane to the permanency of permanent markers, from hydroponics to electro-mud, while Senior Division (9th grade) participants wrestled with the effects of nicotine on yeast, and music on fruit flies.

Sixteen judges, drawn from the community and from area research and educational facilities, spent the afternoon reviewing the projects and interviewing the participants; by the end of the day, they had selected the ribbon winners, medalists and Best of Fair for each division.

Middle School science teacher and Science Fair Coordinator Sharon Gibbs took the microphone at 7 p.m. for the awards ceremony, noting that “more kids than we’ve ever had before” participated this year. She introduced School Board President Rebecca Mundy who had a word of fellow feeling for the parents: “I know what you’re feeling … I know what last night was like!”


Blue ribbon winners in the Junior Division were Sawyer Clark, Patrick Doyle, Felicity Williams, Carter Brigham, Jenny Case, Matthew Dunning, Thomas Fay, Quinn Hundgen, Macklin Lang, Keri Ann Mahoney, Logan Pendergrass, Brianna Rietvelt and Riley Willumsen.

These projects won medals for Junior Division participants: Heavy Sleepers, Thomas Card; Electro-Mud, Liam Cummings; Humidity or Just a Bad Hair Day?, Olivia Garrison; Music on the Mind, Leila Mulligan; Genetics: Traits of My Family, Haley Sulahian; Does Soil Affect Plant Growth?, Matthew BeltCappellino; How Much is Too Much: Cement Additives?, Charles Binder; Quality vs. Price in Disposable Cameras, Erin Colligan; Does Height Matter Measure the Spatter?, Drew Garrison; Reasons for the Seasons, Aterahme Lawrence; and Does Yeast Live in the Air We Breathe?, Annamarie Ruscica.

Taking home Best of Fair honors for the division was Inga Cordts, whose project, The Stroop Effect: Male vs. Female, looked at whether females in the 11- to 13-year-old age group did better than their male counterparts in responding to two Stroop tests, one of which shows printed words with congruent colors and a second with words and incongruent colors, and then measures the time it takes the brain to make decisions on the color vs. the word. (According to her data, her girls did better than the boys.)

Blue ribbons in the Senior Division were awarded to Melissa Ames, Jayme Clark, Myles Clark, Alexis Gibbs, Breanna Hallman, Rider Moschetta, Chandler Olinkiewicz, Andrei Oraseanu and Hunter Starzee.

Medalists and their projects were: Katy Binder (Boys vs. Girls: Whose Hair is Thicker?), Jillian Calabro (Lead in Soil), Samuel dePoto, (The Effect of Music on Fruit Flies), Lisa Kaasik (Do Expectations Affect Your Taste?), Declan Mulligan (Freaky Fly Fo Fum: Acetone Revisited) and Tara Sturges (How Facebook Users Change During the Week).

The judges awarded Best of Fair to Lea Giambruno for her project, Got Gluten? Her topic was celiac disease, a toxic reaction to gluten found in rye, wheat and barley, and her hypothesis, borne out by her data, was that gluten-free foods produced in a factory that also produces food containing gluten, will have traces of gluten, while foods produced in gluten-free plants will not.

The top projects in each division will be selected later for entry in the Long Island Science Congress, which is held in the spring. Over the years, Shelter Island students have earned a total of 624 awards at the congress and nine students have gone on from there to the State Science Congress.

In addition to plaques, medals and ribbons, at a future school assembly students will be awarded with more than $2,000 in cash, gift certificates and other prizes raised from local businesses and community groups.

The awards ceremony concluded with another celebration — everyone was invited for ice cream and cake to commemorate the 45th birthday of the Science Fair.