Meet John Jay's Science Research Seniors
A program steeped in scientific method and self discovery
John Jay High School’s Maya Nitta lights up when she talks about her experience working in a medical research lab. “I loved getting to be hands-on,” she said, noting that she looks forward to studying biomedical engineering in college. “Analyzing data collected on people who’ve experienced a traumatic injury reconnected me to my early interest in brain science,” said Sophia Lind, who taught herself to code in R-Studio in order to do the statistical computing required. “Science Research affirmed my interest in field biology,” said Byron Wilson, a runner, biker and fisherman who researched tick populations at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
These are just three of the seniors in the school’s Science Research program who gained scientific skills and learned about themselves in the process.
Students develop a tight community
Science Research is a rigorous three-year commitment, beginning in the sophomore year. It empowers young people to conduct their own research with a mentor who is a professional in the student’s field of research, use statistical techniques during their analysis of data, and present their findings at competitions and symposia.
It’s also fun. Hanging on the door of C103, John Jay’s SciRe classroom, is a poster left over from Halloween. “Come as your Science Research topic!” Space is always saved on the busy SciRe calendar for Game Day right before winter recess.
Other important days on the SciRe calendar
Spring is competition season, beginning with the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (WRJSHS) hosted at John Jay High School on January 28. SciRe seniors, and juniors who have already collected data, compete at the regional fair for a place at the State Junior Science and Humanities Symposiums.
The students will also participate in the Regeneron Westchester Science & Engineering Fair on March 18 and the Tri County Science and Technology Fair on April 5.
WRJSHS will be a particularly meaningful event for the seniors
“It will be very exciting for SciRe seniors to experience the collegiality of a science fair,” said John Jay’s Science Research teacher Ann Marie Lipinsky. “When they were sophomores, schools and labs closed and it became exponentially more difficult to work with a mentor in a lab. These students have shown extraordinary commitment, creativity and persistence to complete their projects. This year will be the first year they present their work in a setting other than our own school symposium.”
SciRe students thrive through challenges
Cami Sandell, who researched lucid dreaming, is interested in continuing to explore how other scientists are connecting the psychological and physiological aspects of sleep.
“Now I know I want to continue in the field of science research,” said Alex Einhorn, who investigated whether seed starting could be a viable aid for increasing a plant’s salt tolerance.
The experience taught Rachele Bachmann the life skill of time management. “In Science Research, you need to do a little each week, or you fall behind on your hours.”
“Science Research has taught me how to research through journals, how to learn from other people and how to do my own research,” said Caleb Lee, whose project looked at the influence of soils on crop yield. “I’ve also learned a lot about public speaking. This class has set me up for the future!”