DMAE Brings Back Its Science Fair


On March 5, 2015, students in the Common Area found themselves surrounded by a sea of tri-folds accompanied by excited DMAE freshmen and sophomores who were enthusiastically talking in scientific jargon. With terms such as Lithobates catesbeianus and Dionea muscipula thrown in the air, it’s no wonder that the 2015 DMAE Science Fair was met with awe and praise from fellow peers, teachers, and mentors.

“This was the first science fair I went to on our campus, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” junior Victor Morrell said. “But after seeing all the projects and the enthusiasm from the Biomed kids, I was really impressed.”

The DMAE Science Fair was, in fact, dormant for five years until Biomedicine teacher Crystal Ponticelllo brought it back this year. With help from administration, staff, parents, and other DMAE science teachers, Dr. Ponticello showcased the Experimental Design students’ projects.

Although students and teachers alike were eager to see the comeback of the Science Fair, the process to create a legitimate research project was no easy task. With requirements such as a 30-page write-up, a poster presentation, and a PowerPoint presentation, students in the Experimental Design class had to start research using scientific databases in early October in order to design a hypothesis. Often, students scrapped hypotheses multiple times before being satisfied.

“Our original hypothesis was that ethanol would slow down daphnia’s heartbeat and caffeine would speed it up,” sophomore Paula Giraldo explained. “That totally failed though because the results weren’t really conclusive. Our final hypothesis ended up being that pure caffeine is more effective in killing Daphnia pulex than 95% ethanol.”

Paula, who worked with sophomore Melissa Quintero, reiterated that her project went through many changes and revisions. They had to overcome challenges such as collecting data from live organisms that often died before the end of the project and staying on task. Despite the struggles that inevitably came with the research project, Paula and Melissa ended up tying for second place with freshman Tomomi Shore in the award ceremony that followed the Science Fair.

First place winner Vanessa Quintero similarly found the research project daunting at first. However, she cited that mentors such as Shawn Cyran, Cliff Nesfield, and Jackie Goolsarran as well as advisor Dr. Ponticello were helpful in guiding students throughout their projects.

“Our mentor, Mr. Nesfield, really kept us on track,” Vanessa said. “He prevented us from making rookie mistakes and gave us feedback on our papers.”

Vanessa, who worked with sophomore Julia Leavitt, added that her project on the negative effects of pollutants on the growth and development of Rana pipiens could not have been executed without Dr. Ponticello’s constant support.

Dr. Ponticello, who was proud to see her students’ work displayed for the campus, hopes that the DMAE Science Fair is here to stay.

“I look forward to continuing and expanding the Science Fair in the upcoming years,” she said. “I want to really facilitate the growth of the Biomedicine program.”