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WAC Lighting Foundation Science Fair draws hundreds

Lelina Chang and Cristina Lai, sophomores at Great

Lelina Chang and Cristina Lai, sophomores at Great Neck South High School, took home second place in the general biology category. The two have worked together many times on different projects and were happy to take home an award Sunday from the WAC Lighting Foundation Invitational Science Fair held at Commack High School. (April 22, 2012) Credit: Nicole Bartoline

The future of science looked bright Sunday at the WAC Lighting Foundation Invitational Science Fair.

Hundreds of high school students from across Long Island were invited to compete in the science fair at Commack High School, displaying research projects in several categories ranging from computer science to astronomy.

“A lot of these students will go on to be the future researchers in science,” said Richard Kurtz, a science teacher at Commack High School. “It’s fairs like these that let them say it’s OK to be great in science, and that also gives them the experience interacting professionally about their research.”

Kurtz organized this year’s fair, as a member of the Research Association, a non-profit corporation run by research instructors from the schools that participate. With the help of corporate sponsorship, the fair is designed to give students a platform for their research, designs and ideas.

This year marks the first of five that WAC Lighting Foundation of Garden City is sponsoring the event. President Shelley Wald was on stage as winning students were congratulated and awarded scholarships.

“These are really talented young people, and we understand that the future needs them,” said Wald. “That’s why it was really important for us to support our local community this way.”

First-, second- and third-place winners were awarded plaques and $150, $100 or $50 scholarships. Although winning awards was exciting, it wasn’t everything for some students.

“We were doing it because we love science,” said Lelina Chang, 15, a sophomore at Great Neck South High School. “Winning an award was just a testament to our hard work and research, which is what was really important.”

Chang won second place in the general biology category with her partner Cristina Lai, 15, who is also a sophomore. The two have known each since sixth grade and were happy to be working together on their research.

“We’re a really great team,” said Lai.

The participants at the fair were also quick to credit their teachers, whom they admire, respect and gain a great amount of inspiration from.

Olivia Novick, 16, a junior from Jericho High School that won second place in the general biology category for underclassmen, said her science research teacher, Serena McCalla, has everything to do with the success of the program at their school.

“She’s just such an amazing teacher”, said Novick. “The success of our program is a direct result of her instruction, she is the mother of our research clan.”

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