Tag Archives: science

Adding up success at Ridgewood’s Grover Cleveland HS

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Grover Cleveland High School‘s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academy students have soared with achievements in recent weeks.

Members of the program, competing in two separate teams, earned awards at a recent state competition held in Albany. The academy’s Science, Technology and Engineering Program (STEP) at the Ridgewood school is a collaboration with LaGuardia Community College and operates with the guidance of college instructor Sean Galvin.

Under the guidance of science teacher and team coach Krishna Mahabir, an all-female team comprised of students Samichya Sapkota, Ayushma Panthi, Sumitra GC and Tasnia Rahman won first place in the state for their project on renewable energy sources.

The winning group created a three-part panel presentation exploring three different types of renewable energy sources: wind turbine, hydro turbine and solar panels. They constructed miniature models of homes to illustrate how each type of renewable energy source could power a house while reducing the carbon footprint.

“We were thinking about how the environment has been damaged by all of the non-renewable energy, so we came up with the idea of using renewable energy,” Sapkota said. “We asked, ‘How are we able to protect the environment?'”

A second team comprised of male students Sankalpa Pahari, Alexander Altanian, Fantino Fernandez and Alexander Pena Jr. also competed in the state competition in Albany. They chose to create a nano robot with special 3-D modeling software in an effort to ease and improve cancer treatment.

“We chose it because we didn’t like the way cancer was being treated,” Pena said. “In the nano robot treatment, it would be able to go into the cell and eradicate it from there without all of the side effects.”

Grover Cleveland’s Bridge Building team also garnered awards and praise at the most recent Citywide Science Olympiad competition. According to Bridge Building coach and science instructor Lloyd Kiefer, the students competed against 57 teams of young engineers from all across the city to test their bridge design concepts.

Alexander Altanian garnered a first-place victory for creating a truss bridge that did not break under a certain amount of weight and pressure. Altanian credits learning from past bridge building errors with helping him on the road to victory. Fellow teammate Arafath Hussain earned a fourth-place victory for his truss bridge model.

The Grover Cleveland Science Research Club also earned a first-place victory for the school at the Regional Bridge Building Competition held in March at John Bowne High School in Flushing.

Freshman Tasnia Rahman won the title of 2015 Champion for creating a bridge able to hold a maximum of 96 pounds. Rahman immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh just over two years ago. She went on to represent Grover Cleveland at the International Bridge Building Competition in April in Portland, Oregon, and placed among over 56 competitors.

STEM Academy students also took top honors at the annual Envirothon Competition at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, winning first place in Queens and fourth place citywide. As the first-place team in the borough, the students will go on to represent Grover Cleveland at the New York State Envirothon in Geneva, New York, on May 27.


NY Hall of Science challenges people to reinvent breakfast

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Forget about the breakfast of champions. The New York Hall of Science is holding a contest to reinvent breakfast using science.

The science and technology museum is calling the contest the Design Lab Challenge and they are asking people to take the first meal of the day and change it in whatever way.

“Imagine a tool, design, gadget or idea that will elevate your breakfast experience,” the institution’s website instructs. “A fix for soggy cereal or burnt toast? Something to make breakfast more fun? You don’t need a lab or a celebrity chef – just use materials you have at home, at work or in school.”

The idea for the challenge came from the museum’s new installment, Design Lab, which is built on the general notion of using resourcefulness and ingenuity to find solutions for basic engineering and design problems, according to the museum’s announcement. The breakfast challenge tacks the notion onto food.

The Design Lab Challenge is open to anyone older than 13. To enter, participants must create a video or take a photo that shows off their idea for “the best breakfast ever.” And then the idea, or even working prototype, can be uploaded to the contest webpage at challenge.nysci.org or post it on Twitter or Instagram using #breakfastchallenge. Entries must be submitted by Sept. 1.



Community concerned about crowded Cambria Heights’ Campus Magnet High School

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Parents and students worry that adding another school to Cambria Heights’ Campus Magnet High School could crowd artistic minds.

The high school is home to four separate schools, all geared towards enhancing students’ artistic and professional ambitions. There is the Humanities and Arts Magnet High School; Law-Government High School; Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship (BCAE) High School and a Mathematics, Science, Research and Technology High School.

“It can get crowded in there,” said one sophomore student. “Sometimes it’s hard to walk through the halls.”

Each school has a population of roughly 400, said Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Queens representative on the Department of Education (DOE) Panel for Educational Policy. This coming fall, BCAE and Law-Government will start to be phased out, and a fifth school will be added to the building. However, proposals for a sixth school to be added September 2014 has the community concerned about crowding.

The Panel for Educational Policy was set to vote on the addition of a sixth school in their June meeting, but tabled the matter until October.

Parents are reportedly attempting to block the plan to put in a new school and Fedkowskyj said groups at Campus Magnet proposed ideas to instead increase enrollment in the existing schools.

“It’s something the building desired and the counsel could work with,” he said.

The increased-enrollment proposal could theoretically give schools more opportunities to offer more programs for its students and also eliminate the administration fee of adding another principal and teachers to run another school.

“Adding another school and another administration is a lot of work,” Fedkowskyj said. “Principals have enough on their plate to deal with educational matters, they don’t need to deal with programming matters, too.”

“I guess it’s hard to say what [the DOE] will do,” he added. “The engagement they’ll make with the community will hopefully benefit the community and give them what they want.”



Bayside girl scores 2nd in science challenge

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Discovery Education.

Cheyenne Hua has won national recognition for her innovative inventions aimed at putting the brakes on speeding and getting to the bottom of home flooding — and she’s only 14.

The Bayside whiz kid took home a second place victory in the 13th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge — the leading national science competition for students in grades five through eight — on October 5. She also won a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Costa Rica.

“It feels really good to have won second place because all the other finalists were very, very smart. To have such a high ranking among them is awesome,” said Hua, a ninth grader at Hunter College Junior High School.

Hua landed a spot in the top 10 finals with her “smart speed-bump” idea. Her model essentially places two undetected bumps inside the road. When a car passes over the first bump, sensors in the road will recognize if the car is speeding. Then, a timed lever raises up the second bump which pops up to slow down drivers.

She said she was inspired by a fatal crash caused by drag racers two years earlier outside her home on Francis Lewis Boulevard — which she says is a problematic zone for speeders.

“I just wanted to come up with a better solution than the current ones. Some models of cars can’t go over speed bumps. The ones that exist now just sit there, and every car has to suffer through the giant bump. With my invention, only the cars that speed have to go over it,” she said.

Hua’s second invention — a flood protection system — was what helped her land the runner-up win. She worked with a scientist-mentor from the program throughout the summer to develop the project before her final presentation in October.

The invention equips new homes with an adhesive based sheet of waterproof fabric that goes around the house foundation. A ring floats around the top, and when water from the flood comes in, the ring rises and so does the fabric, Hua said. It prevents water from entering the home.

“This past summer, there’s been a lot of flooding. Even though I wasn’t affected, I saw around the news that a lot of people were,” she said. “I just wanted to come up with a system that would be helpful and that people could use to prevent flood damage.”

Although Hua didn’t take home the grand prize, Mary Rollins, vice president of Corporate Education Partnerships and also one of the judges, said it was a close win.

“The judges deliberated for several hours. We’re saying very honestly and openly that this year’s competition was tighter than ever,” she said. “Cheyenne was a really amazing young lady — very composed and incredibly equipped with a strong science background. She’s exactly the kind of student we want when we think of these contests.”

Hua flew to St. Paul, Minnesota — the farthest she’s ever been in the United States — to present her project to a panel of Discovery Education and 3M judges. She also had to answer a series of questions about her project at the end of her five-minute demonstration.

“It was kind of nerve-racking, and I was really relieved when it was finished,” she said. “But it was a great experience.”

Hua, who wants to be an engineer in the future, said she missed three days of school, and is just about finished catching up on the heavy work load.

“It was definitely worth it — especially meeting such cool, awesome people like the mentors, the judges and my fellow finalists. I made great friends. I don’t think I would have met anyone like that through the normal process of life,” said Hua, who still keeps in touch with the other finalists via email.

Hua said she has more inventions under her sleeve and hopes to expand and improve her speed-bump and flood protection ideas.

“I could see Cheyenne working in the field of science and really focusing on real world science, looking for a way to come up with real solutions for real world problems,” Rollins said. “I could see her using science to solve some of our greatest world challenges in the future.”