The lobby of the New Rochelle Public Library was filled with the fruits of scientific research from middle school and elementary school students last Saturday.
Students in the first annual New Rochelle Research Fair presented their explorations of sound, vision, autism’s challenges and the trajectories of golf balls, among other topics.
“It is genuinely amazing that they all reached this point,” said Jeff Wuebber, director of the New Rochelle High School Science Research Program, who emceed the fair. “A lot of college students have not presented original research. This is a very impressive group of students.”
The fair was organized by the Foundation for Science Research in New Rochelle. The New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence contributed support, and the library hosted the event in the lobby as well as the Ossie Davis Theater.
ALMS seventh grader Elena Adams studied the challenges faced by people on the autism spectrum, finding, for instance, that they can be both hypersensitive and hyposensitive.
“It really helped me to understand them a little better,” said Adams, who came in first place in the middle school division. Seventh grader Juliette Thomas came in second while eighth grader James Palermo came in third. Among the elementary school students, Lia Seelenfreund of Daniel Webster Magnet School came in first. NRHS students in the Science Research Program volunteered as judges for the contest.
In addition to the science, the students discovered the importance of verifying their information.
“You have to go to a lot of sources to make sure that what you give as facts are actually facts,” said Kareem Nasr, an ALMS seventh grader whose research looked at the connection between sunlight and prevention of myopic vision (nearsightedness).
Already, the lessons they learned have been invaluable. Thomas, the second-place winner, interviewed 40 students, grades 4 through 7, to determine the age at which they understand Piaget’s Theory of Conservation. She found that older students understood, for instance, that the volume of water does not change when poured from one container to another of a different shape.
Beyond that, the project taught Thomas perhaps the most fundamental lesson of all.
“I’ve discovered that there is always more you can learn,” she said.