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Sleepy Hollow High School Students Take Top Honors at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair

Sleepy Hollow High School Science Research students sat at the edge of their seats as they waited to hear the results of their virtual Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF) competition. We are extremely proud that four students earned top honors.

Congratulations to the following award winners:

  •         Arya Glenn- winner of the Expanding Knowledge of Science Award for her work in Bioinformatics.
  •         Sydney Schulz – 2nd place in Behavioral Science.
  •         Melanie Urgiles - 1st place in Behavioral Science.
  •         Maya Weitzen - 1st place in Cell and Molecular Biology.

“We are extremely proud of all our WESEF participants.  In a year full of challenges, these students demonstrated exceptional grit and creativity. They are amazing,” said Michele Zielinski Co-Advisor of the Science Research Program with fellow teacher David Erenberg.

The students joined the Science Research Program in sophomore year where they chose a project to research after reading and studying current events followed by discussions with their advisors.

“Science Research is one of the few opportunities to make a difference and do something real,” said Maya whose project focused on a cure for cancer. Maya will advance to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) which will take place virtually in May.

“ISEF is so well known, and I am excited to be among the people who were accepted and see such a wide array of projects. This is the first international competition I have been a part of and I think that is important because…once you step out of the United States (you) see the different types of projects that  people are doing over the world with the materials and the resources that they have.”

The pandemic greatly affected the research and presentation of projects. Zielinski noted many students had difficulty collecting data.  For example, Melanie was setting up conversations between students when schools were forced to enter remote learning.  She adjusted by scheduling Google Meets but did not get the number of participants she would have in a normal year.

Instead of creating posters on wooden  boards as in previous years,  all of the participants made Power-Point Projects or slides. They were still evaluated by five judges.

Students researched a variety of topics from medicine and math to linguistic style and race relations.  Zielinski said that students are not assigned a project. The opposite is true - the areas of interest often hold deep personal meaning for students.

Melanie focused on linguistics, noting how her family emigrated from Ecuador and she wanted her project to have a language aspect. She also admits that she generally is a shy student, and the idea of studying assertiveness in conversation between male and females inspired  her. She described the greatest lessons she learned from the Science Research experience and her project. 

“Connecting with students that I definitely would not have talked to, getting to know them from the perspective of linguistics. When you are doing a linguistics project it changes the way you start speaking to other people and approaching conversations.  Also, being exposed to research has also helped me decide what I want to do in college.”  

Melanie would like to become a veterinarian after college and Maya will pursue a pre-medicine track after graduating Sleepy Hollow High School.

WESEF participants this year included: Isabella Chambers, Olivia Chambers, Emma Correia, Sebastian Fernandez, Arya Glenn, Sydney Schulz, Aliya Tang, Melanie Urgiles and Maya Weitzen.