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Each two, students in science research participate in the New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF), which is the largest city-wide competition for high school students. It’s more than just a showcase of science experiments as it allows students to put into use the very skills that form successful academic careers. However, this does not limit the students’ exposure to only scientific fields, as they get to work on their reading, writing, math, and presentation skills.
Students have about two months to design, research, and test their experiments. This involves extensively researching their project, formulating a hypothesis, and then testing that hypothesis. Junior Sabiq Shahab approaches this by thinking about “things in our daily life that might make a significant change in our lives, and how others are exposed to the variable [of the experiment].” Background research is crucial in coming up with a meaningful experiment.
However, with every experiment, problems arise, such as budget constraints or failure of the experiment midway through. As researchers, students are expected to account for these obstacles and work around them. A major problem Sabiq expects to arise is a lack of money and time. He commented, “I try to make an experiment relatively cheap by looking for an organism that is cheap [but] can give a lot of results. I try to make my experiment based around something that can be tested quickly.” For Junior Steven Sebastian, on the other hand, a problem that may occur is “during the experiment when outside forces affect the data. This can be solved by conducting multiple trials.”
Steven added, “the science classes I have taken assist me during the experiments because they have provided me with background information that can be incorporated when writing papers.”
Junior David Kozuch is planning on entering the competion by examining how probiotics affect bacteria. The intestines are made up of beneficial and harmful bacteria. Many conditions are believed to stem from the bacteria in the intestines, such as diarrhea, pouchitis, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. David concluded from his research that “probiotics are believed to produce substances that kill specific pathogenic bacteria.”
Most experiments stem from trying to solve a problem. Junior Noah Sadik’s experiment. for example, involves choosing “to test the effects of lead ion pollution on planarian regeneration,” modeling the Flint Michigan water crisis. Solutions can vary from ground-breaking cures to cheaper alternatives of a treatment.
Students participating in NYCSEF create an active opportunity for themselves in order to learn more about STEM and how they can incorporate it into their future goals