Hamden Hall Country Day School

Educating students in PreSchool through Grade 12

SID Program Breaks Record for Area Science Fair Participation

A record-breaking number of students in Hamden Hall’s signature program, Science, Innovation & and Design (SID), have projects slated for two state-wide science fairs: the 2022 Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair.
Three seniors will participate in the symposium, which will be hosted by UConn Health on March 5. Ten students in Grades 8-11 have had their projects selected to present at the 74th annual CT Science & Engineering Fair to be held March 7-19 at Quinnipiac University. One of the goals of the SID program is to encourage students to submit entries to science fairs.
“The projects require a great deal of initiative on the student’s part in identifying a topic of study and carrying it out to completion,” said SID program director Dr. Frank Gasparro. “Our students compete each year at science fairs, but usually only two or three and five last year. Since we launched our SID program, that has changed. And this year, we have an astounding number of students participating in local science fairs.”

For the three seniors, Sophie Schonberger, Daniel Vash, and Lucy Xu, presentations at the UConn symposium will showcase the ongoing Photobiology Research Program that started under the guidance of Dr. Gasparro during SID’s premier year in 2011. Critical anticancer research began in conjunction with Duke University's Immunolight Project and continues at our own research labs at 1140 Whitney Avenue using specialized, high-tech lab equipment.
“Successful work on projects prior to senior year qualifies the student for consideration to join the Photobiology Research Program,” explained Dr. Gasparro.

Other students participating in the Quinnipiac Science Fair include juniors Thomas DongEvan Huang, Adam Shi, and Leo Southam; sophomores Owen Zeng and Joy Zhuo; and eighth graders Andrei Balas, Ravindu Karunaratne, Neev Makin, and Sophia Vash.
“Our students are doing cutting-edge research,” said Dr. Gasparro. “These projects prepare them for further independent work and serve as distinguishing features above routine coursework for college applications.”

Established during the 2011-2012 school year, SID is an interdisciplinary program that allows students to pursue independent research on scientific topics of their interest. SID participants pursue their research under the mentorship of Dr. Gasparro and assistant director Dr. Patrick Fitzgerald.

Hamden Hall SID Participants and their Science Fair Project Research:

Daniel Vash
: Titled “Safer Sunscreen,” the project investigated the effect of the sunscreen ingredient avobenzone on the skin as it can diffuse into the bloodstream, leading to endocrine disruption. The research led to the conclusion of incorporating hydroxyapatite molecules into the sunscreen to reduce the absorption rate.

Lucy Xu
: Titled “Fluorometric Determination of the DNA Binding Constant of a Novel and Potent Psoralen Derivative,” the project uses the scientific method of spectrofluorometry to experimentally determine the binding constant of a novel psoralen derivative to target DNA molecules in order to determine whether its high cytotoxicity correlates with a large DNA binding constant. Psoralens are planar molecules that are able to complex with DNA by intercalation. When struck with UVA rays, they can crosslink double-stranded nucleic acids, thereby inhibiting DNA synthesis and cell division. 
Sophie Schonberger: Titled “Equilibrium Dialysis.”

Leo Southam
: Titled “Using SiO2 to Reduce Micro Plastics Dissolved into the Oceans,” the project examines the effectiveness of the SiO2 based coating as a way to prevent micro plastics from dissolving into the ocean. The SiO2 covers the plastic water bottles in a protective film that that reduces the effects of currents and temperature on the release of micro plastics.

Thomas Dong: 
Titled Research on Eye Movement Recognition of Early Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder Based on Hybrid Timing Neural Network”, the project proposes a new method of identifying Autism Spectrum Disorder in children using a computer program.

Owen Zeng and Joy Zhuo: Titled "Determining Carbon Dioxide Levels in Classroom Settings," the project measures the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in classrooms to illustrate the relationship between classroom occupancy and those levels. By comparing the measured carbon dioxide level with a control group, the students were able to analyze whether those level affected students’ concentration abilities and potential health risks.

Ravindu Karunaratne
Titled “iAAA Band,” which stands for Impact Absorbing and Alerting band, the project features a band worn around the hand of an elderly or disabled person to protect their head during a fall and alerts the surrounding people.

Neev Makin
: Titled “The Latch,” the project aims to create a free alternative readily available for nurses to find and locate veins in order to place an IV using a smartphone app. The app uses an artificial intelligence algorithm that can interpret the image captured by the smartphone camera to find the linear vein that is most suitable for IV placement.
Sophia Vash: Titled “Plants, Metals, and the Lakes,” the project investigates if certain plants and water animals can take away harmful contaminants in lakes. Applying the scientific method of phytoremedition, Sophia used different plant types and bodies of water around the Hamden area to test her hypothesis of If we use aquatic plants such as X Y Z to rid fresh water contaminated with these certain metals, then there will be a greater change and less contamination rather than using these plants, A B C.
    • Thirteen Upper School students will present their project research at upcoming state-wide science fairs.

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