High School Students Take Research to the Next Level

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Aspiring scientists at Amityville Memorial High School spent several months exploring the work of noted researchers in preparation for conducting their own science studies next year. 

The school hosted its first Science Research Symposium on May 16, with three students sharing their projects. They are enrolled in science research, a new course this year offered in partnership with SUNY Albany. Teacher Jennifer Galasso said that it is a three-year program in which students can earn up to 12 college credits.

The presenters were sophomore Colleen Compitello and juniors Ameila Tisk and Z’Dhanne Williams. The audience included teachers, administrators, board of education trustees and family members. 

For the first year of the program, students developed their research and presentation skills by selecting a topic and finding scientists who studied that topic extensively. Each student read professional journal articles to thoroughly analyze existing research. This helped them understand the process that scientists go through to gather information.

Next year, Amelia, Colleen and Z’Dhanne will begin their own original research projects. Each will develop a research question and find a mentor scientist to guide them through the process. They will collect their own data in the hopes of making meaningful contributions to the scientific community.

“This year was to build the foundation,” Ms. Galasso said. “The students were really proud of the work that they did, and they are excited about continuing it.”

Ms. Galasso said that one of the benefits of the class is that students can pick topics of interest to them. Colleen, who is involved in Amityville’s music program, chose as her topic, “Music Therapy and Autism.” Amelia’s presentation was on “The Effect of Antidepressants on Bipolar Disorder.”

 Z’Dhanne said that while her topic, “Resensitizing Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria,” may sound complex, she enjoyed the chance to present it in a way that made the information relatable to everyone.  

“I loved being able to connect with my audience,” she said. “The fact that I was able to pick my own topic, something I’m passionate about, has given me the opportunity to shine.”

After the three students presented, they stood with their presentation posters to answer any questions from guests. The symposium also featured a guest speaker from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Watson School of Biological Science, Lyndsey Aguirre, who discussed her research on genetic regulatory circuits in plants.