Francis Lewis Presents Science Research at St. Joseph’s

On a cold Saturday morning, dozens of high school and graduate students (as well as college professors) crowded into a narrow and long hallway inside Tuohy Hall at St. Joseph’s College for the 25th annual High School Poster Session on February 8. A row of tables with volunteers sitting behind were set up, with many students scrambling to sign in and get their name tag, as well as find their assigned spot and set up their research project. Students could be seen rehearsing their presentation before the competition began, while others took the opportunity to get a quick snack from the large breakfast hall, filled with bagels, fruits, and drinks. 

Francis Lewis students participated in this event for the first time ever, presenting their research as a part of the Science Research program. Students prepared well before the event, working diligently on their posters as well as preparing for the judges’ questions.

“In my classes this was entirely optional so the students who took part did so because they wanted to,” Science Research teacher Dr. Cohen said. “This excitement showed. I was very impressed with how few drafts were needed for each poster and how well they all presented.”

“The students did a mock fair to prepare for the event,” Dr. Cohen added. “They presented in front of their posters and fielded questions from teachers and peers.”

One project completed by sophomore Shi Qi Huang covered the effects of sound on plants.

“My project is on the effects of the sound of stream water on cucumbers in drought,” Huang said. “Me and my group mates explain the results shown in our trials, some of which were the increase in shoot length, leaf width, and wet mass.”

One of Huang’s group mates, sophomore Thea Boumakis felt that the event was “a wonderful experience” for them.

“The judges that visited our project were extremely interested in what we shared,” Boumakis said. “[They asked] questions about our experimental setups, how we collaborated, and about our results.”

Dr. Cohen shared these sentiments.

“I thought that this was one of the best organized and most enjoyable competitions I have attended,” Dr. Cohen said. “Most competitions make guests leave during judging, but this event did not so I was able to experience more of the competition.”

Most students outside of Francis Lewis conducted their research with a mentor outside of their school’s research program. Despite this, Francis Lewis students performed extremely well.

“What really surprised me was that all of our projects were done in school, whereas most of the other projects seemed to be done with a mentor at a university,” Dr. Cohen said. ”In spite of that fact, we still won 4 awards.”

Francis Lewis participants believed that this event had a positive impact on them by improving their capabilities and giving them practice in presenting for a scientific purpose.

“From this event, I believe my skills as a presenter became a lot stronger,” Boumakis said. “Being in front of judges for scientific purposes was new to me. I’m very comfortable with public speaking and being around others, but for scientific purposes, I learned a new way to be vocal and share my thoughts.”

This event can help expose students to higher levels of research and help foster their motivation to continue research after they graduate.

“I feel proud of the rewards our school won,” sophomore Shi Qi Huang said. “It makes me feel more motivated to do the same as those groups of students and eventually achieve something myself.”

Dr. Cohen believes that events like these “give the students a wonderful opportunity” to improve upon their capabilities.

“Seeing how professionals responded to their research was very validating,” Dr. Cohen said. “Also, getting to interact with students from other schools was motivating.  I imagine students also were able to get inspiration from the projects they saw around their own posters and from the questions that the judges asked.”

“This is the first year we took part, but it will not be the last!” Dr. Cohen said.