Greenwich Time: Greenwich students compete in virtual science fairs amid coronavirus cancellations

Greenwich Time: Greenwich students compete in virtual science fairs amid coronavirus cancellations

This story originally appeared in the Greenwich Time. To read it in full, please visit the newspaper's website.

The social-distancing measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus has interrupted the work of Greenwich students who participate in regional, state and national science competitions.

Some of the competitions were rescheduled, some went forward and still others took advantage of the digital era so that students could still present their science projects and have their posters judged.

The 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the oldest and most prestigious competition, was scheduled to host its final competition last week in Washington D.C., but was postponed until the summer. Greenwich High School senior Raina Jain was selected as one of only 40 finalists in the nation, and can win up to $250,000 in scholarship via her participation in the finals. Jain will receive $25,000 regardless of whether she can make the summer program.

The 2020 Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair was conducted as a virtual event, where students uploaded their posters, and were judged. After every project was judged, every finalist was interviewed for 15 minutes via the GoToMeeting platform.

Students applied by sending their posters in as PDFs, and from those, judges selected finalists who they interviewed by phone last Wednesday.

“While not ideal, as I believe that 15 minutes is not nearly enough to describe the complexities of our students’ projects, it was certainly better than the alternative, which was cancellation,” GHS Honors Science Research teacher Andy Bramante said. “In the end, our students performed exceptionally well. For the 14th year running, at least one of our students will present his or her research at the International Science & Engineering Fair.”

This year, sophomore Ana Galic will be advancing to the International Science and Engineering Fair. She was awarded first place at CSEF, in the engineering category, for developing a new color-changing lateral-flow test, which is like a pregnancy test, to detect pancreatic cancer from biomarkers in urine. She also came in third in biotechnology for the same project, and earned a lunch with a patent attorney.

Bramante said he is proud of all of the GHS student participants “who pivoted to the virtual platform on a moments notice.”

Sacred Heart Greenwich submitted the maximum number of entries to the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair and a number of students received special awards and recognitions for their projects, with a strong showing for projects on sustainability and environmental impact.

Senior Zoe Kassapidis, who tested natural and synthetic substances for cleaning up oil spills effectively, came in second in the Future Sustainability category.

Seniors Erin O’Connor, Renata Trevino and Julia Welsh came in third in life sciences for their project, which uses Nile Red Dye to test for the presence of microplastics in bottled water.

From Brunswick School, sophomores Gregory Kapp and Michael Montgomery took third place in the physical sciences category at the CSEF for their project, using solar-powered electrodialysis to desalinate and purify seawater.

Brunswick 11th-grader Noah Levi, of Wilton, earned first place in applied technology and a $30,000 scholarship to the University of Connecticut, and was named a Next Step inventor. He created a texting and driving safety device — a steering wheel that is touch-sensitive, and when hands are taken off the wheel, a hydraulic braking system is activated.

From Greenwich Academy, seventh-grader Ruby Montanez came in fourth in biotechnology, third in environmental sciences and second in life sciences for her project looking at the effects of fertilizers on soil microbes.

Greenwich Catholic School eighth-graders William Carragher, Christian Sorbera and Sydney Dettmer earned first in the Alternative/Renewable Energy category for their project.

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