Top Prize At Science Fair


On March 11, two East Woods School students were awarded first place prize in the annual Long Island Science and Engineering Fair (LISEF). The fair and related award ceremony was held at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. LISEF, whose goal is to promote excellence in scientific inquiry and discovery in Long Island schools, accepts entries from middle and high schools around the island.

Alex Oruci and Will Benjamin, both in the eighth grade at East Woods, entered their Mad Mice experiment. Long before the recent news broke amid concerns of dangerously and potentially deadly high caffeine levels in certain energy drinks, these two students were already on the case. Alex and Will, who both participate in the East Woods proprietary Advanced Learning Program, created their own science research project to test the effects of energy supplements on brain functions, learning and memory. Working with Dr. Karen Kuntz, a member of the ALPs teaching staff at East Woods, the duo titrated out caffeine, ginseng and taurine into peanut butter. They then built a maze and used four mice, one for each of the elements, and one control. Over the course of five months they fed the mice and recorded the data.

The student scientists initially hypothesized that the caffeine would adversely impact the brain functions in the mice. They watched as the caffeinated mouse finished the maze with the fastest time, during repeated trials. The question was whether or not the caffeine helped memory, or did it simply make them faster? Through additional trials the students determined that the caffeine actually helped improve memory function. Their conclusion was that limited amounts of caffeine can help boost memory. However, they noted some side effects in the caffeine-filled mouse: obsessive grooming and hyperactivity.

This was the first time East Woods has entered this prestigious competition. There were more than 100 students, comprising 55 teams at the middle school level. Our first place winners will continue on to compete at the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program of Society for Science and the Public. This is a national competition for middle school students.

East Woods is also proud of the other teams that presented at the fair. Riley Hughes (eighth grade) and Morgan McCartan (seventh grade) presented “Terracqua 2” on their research and creation of non-carcinogen skin care lotion and sunscreen products. William Schwing (sixth grade) presented his research on “Peacock Mantis Shrimp: The Shrimp with Super Powers”.

East Woods School is an independent, co-educational pre-nursery through eighth grade school, including a full-day kindergarten program. East Woods School is located on 46-acres in Oyster Bay.

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