Six Huntington High School science research program students participated in this year’s Farmingdale State College STEM Diversity Summit.
Robert Jean-Gilles, Candido Martinez, Luke Rinaldi, Sofia Marchetta, Ricardo Romero-Cisneros and Joe Tonjes were all on hand to present their research projects. Held in Roosevelt Hall on the Farmingdale campus, organizers of the summit said “the urgency to continue to act together to strengthen economic and workforce development through education and industry is imperative.”
The summit featured “best practices” along with dozens of research exhibits in science, math, engineering and technology that were created by public school students spread across grades 8-12. There were also presentations on sustainable energy technologies and biotechnologies, cyber security and manufacturing by national, regional, and local businesses.
The Huntington contingent impressed fellow summit attendees. Accompanied by Huntington science teacher Rosario Lorenzana, the teenagers brought along their project presentation boards and a willingness to discuss their research findings with anyone of any age.
“The STEM Diversity Summit is very fun competition,” Mr. Jean-Gilles said. “I’ve been going there since freshman year and I’ve always had a positive experience. This year I am working with Luke Rinaldi and Sofia Marchetta to test the biodiversity of tardigrades on Long Island. This is a field study where we have gone out and collected moss samples to see if we can find these microorganisms.”
Huntington has been sending students to Farmingdale’s STEM Diversity Summit for many years. Participants have always found value in it.
“Being that I participated in the competition twice over, I have a deeper understanding of the contest as a whole,” Huntington senior Mackenzie Joseph said. “When I participated in STEM Diversity Summit during my freshman year, I was extremely nervous and didn’t know what to expect. However, I went with the very lovely Mrs. Forbes, who guided me through the whole process. During the competition we got to hear from guest speakers. This was an eye-opening experience for me as I met a very intelligent 17 year old African American student by the name of Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, who at the time was just accepted into to all eight Ivy League schools. She was Nigerian like me and inspired me to achieve higher.”
Ms. Joseph won an award that first year for her project titled “The Effects of Sound Frequencies on a Veiled Chameleon’s Color.”
Her second trip to Farmingdale was with research partner and close friend Emma Grassi. They brought along their project titled “The Effects of Sound Frequencies on the Dionaea muscipula (Venus Fly Trap). “We had a great experience; similar to the one I had the first time.” Ms. Joseph said. The dynamic duo won an award for their work.
The recent gathering was a hit with the Huntington research students. “All in all, the experience was great and I am very glad that I was able to interact with world renowned professors and judges,” Ms. Marchetta said. “I’m happy I went to this competition for my very first competition!”
Mr. Jean-Gilles also believes his time at Farmingdale was well spent. “Seeing people from all kinds of backgrounds competing was definitely something that I wanted to see,” he said.
Mr. Martinez also enjoyed attending the STEM Diversity Summit. “The experience was great,” he said. “There were kids from all over the state at the competition coming from different types of schools. Throughout the day, there were also career seminars, presentations about different career paths in the STEM field and a hands on room where we could experience virtual reality. There was also a robotic arm and a glove that would replicate whatever movement the person wearing the glove did.”
Huntington science teachers are planning to send another group of research students to Farmingdale next year for the 2020 competition and summit.