Hewlett High School sophomores reach state science congress finals with silver research | Herald Community Newspapers

All that glitters is silver for three Hewlett High School sophomores who were named finalists in the State Science Conference Competition They will present their research in Syracuse on June 9.

Deniz Artan, Darsh Schafer and Benjamin Zelikoff will compete as a team in the 2024 tournament Long Island Science Conference Competition In Garden City on April 15, with a project exploring the effect of silver ions and nanoparticles on plant cells, inspiring real-world applications.

“I wasn’t very familiar with the topic at first,” Zelikov admitted. “I really like silver now. It’s a wonderful item.”

He, Artan, and Schaffer joined Terrance Bissoondial’s scientific research class, where they were assigned a research topic.

“We worked with Dr. B throughout the entire process,” Artan said. “He taught us all the different lab procedures.”

Using research journals and experiments, they discovered silver’s ability to shrink plant cells and harm plant growth.

“It’s real-world stuff — it’s big,” Artan said of silver affecting other areas through pollution. “Landfills are full of this stuff. It gets into streams through landfills.

They presented their findings at a Long Island competition, at the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Rickson Center, last month.

“He asks us a whole bunch of questions,” Dr. Shaffer said of the preparation process. “We knew from there if we needed to do more research.”

The group began working on the project last September, but decided not to submit it to the committee Science Fair at Mawlawi University, in March, because they wanted to develop it further. And at the Long Island Science Competition, they were ready to compete for a place in the finals.

On the day of the competition, Artan fell ill and was unable to participate, but Schaffer and Zelikov felt they had rehearsed their presentation together so thoroughly that they had memorized each other’s talking points.

“I’m very proud of them,” Artan said of her teammates still competing. “They really helped us get this.”

Schafer focused on data analysis for the project.

“It’s one thing to understand the data charts and graphs you find online, but it’s even more useful to understand the statistics you read,” Schaffer said, explaining how the group presented their findings. “Being able to make that connection is very important.”

Zelikov, who was participating in his first competition, and both Artan and Shaffer were experienced science competition presenters, said he was nervous about presenting the project to the judges, who were teachers at the participating schools, but his nerves went away when they got started.

“You realize they’re human too,” Zelikov said. “Dr. Bissoondial, it’s a little difficult, but it really helped.

The three learned they had advanced to the state competition in early May, in Bissoondial’s science class.

“Our immediate reaction was just jump for joy,” Artan said. “We literally jumped out of our seats.”

Team members are now refining the research as they prepare to present it in Syracuse.

“I think there are a lot of improvements and developments that need to be made,” Schafer said.

Artan explained that they took advantage of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a database of peer-reviewed research papers.

“Winning another award at states is our goal at this point,” he said.

The Milton J. Rubinstein Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse will host the state competition.

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