Science Fair 2023

Students did an awesome job of following their curiosity

Luke was captivated by what he saw under the microscope—a multicellular rotifer’s rotating, ciliated corona. Sasha and Maya wondered about strawberries: what was the best way to keep them fresh? Sophie likes to design; Julie is into STEAM and coding. Their common concern for the environment brought them together to explore the plausibility of robotic cars.

These are just some of the student investigations that were showcased at the John Jay Middle School Science Fair, an expo run by the middle school’s science department. Teachers check in with students about their projects, but all of the work is done on the students’ own time.

from rotifers to robotic cars

judges pleased and surprised at the variety of projects

“Students did an awesome job sharing their curiosity,” said science teacher Zachary Miller, the event’s organizer. “Their hard work was evident in every one of the projects."

The Science Fair was judged by district parents Allen Chiang, James Danalewich, Joseph Gaffney and Ron Isaacson.

They awarded two Outstanding honors: The Perfect Medium Rare, Maximo D’Alessandro, sixth grade; and Hand Dryers: Are They Really that Sanitary? Elyse Hermanto and Ainsley Graham, eight grade.

They also awarded two Honorable Mentions: How Wolves Communicate, Blake Axelrod, sixth grade; and How Does Color Affect Memory, Euwen Chong and Susannah Rogers, seventh grade.

Miller told the students that the judges were especially pleased and surprised at the variety and intrinsic curiosity they brought to their projects. “They saw that each one of you was driven by wanting to discover something,” he related.

Hand Dryers: Are They Really that Sanitary?

 Hand Dryers 

Best practices for drying hands in public restrooms are often thought to be using the hot air dryer or flicking your hands, explain Elyse and Ainsley. “We do it to be green,” said the eighth graders, “because paper towels can’t be recycled.” But are the first two methods sanitary? They borrowed petri dishes and a microscope from John Jay’s science lab and headed to the local grocery story’s restroom.

The Perfect Medium Rare

 Perfect Medium Rare 

Food is important to sixth grader Maximo, the son of a chef. “I’m a medium-rare steak kind of a guy,” he said. “I wondered how cooking methods affect moisture losses in steak, specifically in dry aged, grass fed and finished sirloin steak." His hypothesis: if cooking is stopped at the same temperature in four different cooking methods, the moisture loss will be consistent. He was wrong.

How Wolves Communicate


Blake can hear wolves howling from her home, and it makes her German shepherd Cody act crazy. She took a trip to the Wolf Conservation Center to find out what the wolves’ sounds meant—and learned that the howling was only one way they communicate. “They also use scent and body language,” said Blake. “What interested me the most was comparing wolves to dogs.”

How Does Color Affect Memory?


Like most students, Euwen and Susannah use highlighters. They come in so many different colors, they realized. Does their color affect one’s ability to memorize information?  They set up an experiment with three groups to test their hypothesis that the color red has a positive impact on memory.