Newton Country Day students excel in scientific research

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At Newton Country Day School, the science curriculum goes way beyond biology, chemistry, and physics. The Independent Research in Science elective course is open to any student in grades 9-12 who wishes to pursue independent laboratory research under the guidance of a science faculty mentor. Students are required to propose a topic, conduct research, design and execute the experiment, and use statistical tests to analyze data and draw conclusions. Students enrolled in Independent Research in Science present the results of their work at formal scientific forums, including the annual Newton Country Day Science and Engineering Fair, the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair, and the New England Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

Last March, 11 students represented Newton Country Day School at the Region V Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair (MSEF). Eight projects received awards at the regional level, and all 10 projects advanced to the State Fair. Their projects were impressive and wide-ranging:

Third Place Awards

-- Sasha Aljamal '24: Comparing the Efficacy of Turmeric to Ascorbic Acid in Preventing Cell Death by Oxidative Stress in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

-- Carina Fujimoto '25: The Female Teenage Brain: Sleep Deprivation, Cognitive Fatigue, and Their Effect on Academic Performance Throughout the Day

-- Ludovica Melodia '25: A Traffic Light Model to Save Energy

-- Jillian Mulvey '23: Cleat-ciate: Cleats to Reduce Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

-- Anjali Reddy '24: Does Caffeine Protect Against Oxidative Stress in C. elegans?

United States Air Force Second Place Awards

-- Alivia Hennessey '25 and Elise Schlichtmann '25: A National Study of Adolescent Girls and Their Math Teachers: Perspectives on Stereotypes of Girls in Math

-- Elizabeth Kfoury '25: The Mortality Rates of Vanessa Cardui Butterflies When Exposed to BPA

MA Region V First Place Award

-- Evelyn Zhang '25: Attack and Defense: Gender Differences in Chess Strategy Preference and Its Correlation with Performance

In addition, representatives from MSEF announced that they would feature the project by Kelsey Gund '23, Expanding Accessibility to Exercise for the Blind, on their website. The representatives noted that Gund's work embodies the mission of MSEF, which is to encourage the next generation of science and engineering students in service of the greater community.

As the first place winner at the NCDS Fair, Isabella Adarme '24 automatically advanced to May's Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair with her project: Exposure of Gram-Positive and Gram-Negative Bacteria to Combined Treatment of Antibiotics and Antiseptics. The other NCDS honorees joined her there to present their Independent Research projects at the state level, which consisted of 275 projects with over 300 judges from industry and academia participating in conversations with the student presenters.

There, the accolades continued, as Mulvey won the Fish and Richardson Patent Award for her invention of a break-away cleat to prevent knee injuries in young athletes. This prize comes with help filing a patent for her project. Zhang, a nationally recognized chess player, won a second place award for her work on gender disparities in chess strategies.

In speaking about Independent Research students, Chair of the Science Department Rebecca Sen said, "Completing an Independent Research Project is no small feat. It requires creativity, flexibility, patience, and persistence, along with problem-solving, data analysis, communication, and an ability to recognize that things do not always go as planned. We are all extremely proud of our Independent Research students."