A two-student team from Long Beach High School won a top science award on an international stage last month with a project that prevents metals from contaminating soil.
Seniors Hannah Berkowitz and Jackie Bokor were one of only three grand-prize-winning teams worldwide last month at the 2011 International Sustainable World (Engineering, Energy and Environment) Project Olympiad, also known as I-SWEEEP, in Houston. The science fair, coordinated by the nonprofit Cosmos Foundation, is designed to spark interest in and awareness of the planet's sustainability challenges.
In total, about 450 projects from 70 countries were invited to appear in the Olympiad.
"We were completely in shock to win and had grins on our faces like you wouldn't believe," said Berkowitz, noting she and Bokor won gold and silver medals in the competition in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Their project, which won I-SWEEEP's environmental category, explored the sequestration of heavy metals -- such as copper, cadmium, manganese and iron -- using abscisic acid and euglena, a photosynthetic microorganism. To research the topic, the girls set up the solutions in petri dishes for seven-day intervals and then used a spectrophotometer to study the metals' subsequent density.
They determined that euglena could be used as a potential means of bioremediation.
"We're really interested in the environment and what we can do to help," said Bokor, who said she split the $3,000 cash prize with Berkowitz.
Long Beach juniors Arianne Papa and Jane Smyth won a gold medal in the same category for a project that used mussels to filter treated sewage effluent, while sophomores Brandon Levokove and David Velez won silver for a project that studied the ability of fungus to mitigate stress on Kentucky bluegrass. Papa and Smyth also won a gold medal last year.
Girls Learn chapter
Farmingdale High School recently launched a chapter of Girls Learn International, a Manhattan-based organization that aims to improve the lives of young women in developing nations. The chapter, founded by junior Sera Ruzgar, is the first in a Long Island high school, district officials said. The chapter's primary goal will be to partner with a school in a developing nation and then fundraise on its behalf.
Two fifth-grade teams from Ogden Elementary School recently won first and second place in the regional grade 4-8 division of the Stock Market Game, an online simulation that gives kids a chance to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in a fictional financial portfolio. Ogden's first-place team members were Lucas Corda, Donna Harush and Nick Imas. Second-place teammates were Hailey Greenburg, Gianna Josiah and Ana Melgar-Giron.
Funds for St. Jude
Howard B. Mattlin Middle School students recently raised more than $8,300 through an annual math-a-thon to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. To raise the funds, students solicited sponsorships from family and friends and solved math problems online.
'Mix It Up' models
Three Nassau County schools -- Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, Number 5 School in Cedarhurst and Woodland Middle School in East Meadow -- were among 52 schools nationwide named Mix It Up Model Schools last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama.
They were chosen based on their "exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding among their students and campuses" in the 2010-11 school year, center officials said.
Long Island students had 11 of 54 winning projects at the state level of New York State History Day, a contest sponsored by the state's historical association. Students created research projects on the theme "Debate and Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences."
Hauppauge: Jonah Belser, Greg Nelson and Frank Poma of Hauppauge High School; Luke Cowden of Hauppauge Middle School; Herricks: Corrin Chow, Daniel Cohanpour, Stacy Jacob, Abhiraj Mathur, Hewon Park and Meena Yoo of Herricks High School; Hewlett: Jason Brooks and Allison Schlissel of George W. Hewlett High School; Huntington: Brielle Blatt, Samantha Palmer and Collin Richardson of Huntington High School; Jericho: Akash Advaney, Dan Esposito, Kanav Gupta and Rahiq Rafeeq of Jericho Middle School; Manhasset: Morgan Rielly of St. Mary's High School; Syosset: Elijah Baum and Hunter Rosenblume of Syosset High School.