Huntington High School science research program students performed well in the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair’s JV competition at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
The research team consisting of juniors Ava Waxenberg, Zubair Ali and Peyton Kalb captured third place in the environmental science category in the challenging contest, impressing judges with their comprehensive projects and findings.
Ava Waxenberg, Zubair Ali and Peyton Kalb took third place at the LISEF.
The teenagers studied PEI mussels, which are “healthy and rich in protein and minerals and low in fat, cholesterol and sodium,” according to the PEI Aquaculture Alliance.
“Competing in the LISEF was definitely a completely different experience than competing at Molloy College last year,” Ms. Kalb said. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without the help of my partners. Coming in third place in the environmental science category was an amazing feeling. Knowing that we impressed the judges with our extensive knowledge of the PEI mussel’s ability to detoxify strong pollutants in the Long Island Sound, was what I think pushed us to the edge and really gave those brownie points with the judges.”
It took hours for the thrill of competing and placing among the best to wear off. “To my teammates and I, competing at LISEF wasn’t about winning, it was about working together, receiving valuable critiques from the judges and learning from our mistakes,” Ms. Kalb said. “I know that my team and I thoroughly enjoyed our time competing next to some of the most impressive young scientists on Long Island and I know we can’t wait for New York State Science and Engineering Fair in April.
Each member of the award winning research team carried out their role in exquisite fashion. “My second opportunity at the LISEF was the best time yet,” Mr. Ali said. “Winning third place is a complete honor to me and my team. We never thought we’d actually place higher than honorable mention. It’s a pleasant shock to us to know our research was appreciated and we were honored for our hard work. This experiment has had lots of ups and downs, from starting on time to then having 60 mussels suddenly die and having to restart, causing us to be slightly behind. I’m so amazed at the fact we were able to do so well.”
The group spent countless hours on conducting and interpreting their research. “This project means a lot to the three of us since it pertains to a local issue in the Town of Huntington and if taken further could save the town money; like $40,000.”
Ms. Waxenberg was also ecstatic at capturing a bronze medal. “Being able to demonstrate our knowledge of PEI mussels and the process of the detoxification of pollutants through intensive research and being able to work together as a hard-working team and all get to the same place; the top is a great achievement,” she said. “What made our experiment different from others was discussing how this is extremely relevant to our local community. Huntington spends tens upon thousands of dollars cleaning the LI Sound with synthetic chemicals and non-eco-friendly solutions in order to reduce the amount of nitrates and other pollutants. However, we proposed projects and ideas that could be revolutionary for this town and other towns who rely on the Sound for profit and commercial use as well.”
The Huntington research team members really connected with the professionals who evaluated each of the entries. “I think the judges really loved the bigger picture of our project,” Ms. Waxenberg said. “I’m so, so happy we made it this far with our dedication and determination to show people what we’ve got and how we could make this a reality, not just some project that could never be applied to issues existing today.”
Huntington freshman Erin Ye; sophomores Eliana Ng and Mia Brown; junior Patrick Langton; and senior Foster Sullivan also vied in the competition with well-regarded projects.