Student Researchers Shine at Science Symposium

The path to the Masters Science Research Symposium on May 25 was an organic one for Charlie Cooper ’23. His passion for photography deepened his appreciation of the environment, resulting in his symposium presentation "Measuring Biodiversity on Neighboring Uninhabited and Inhabited Beaches."

Family trips to the Jersey Shore sparked the idea for Cooper’s research topic. “I realized there was a beautiful, protected beach at the end of the island and I could compare biodiversity with the inhabited beach,” he explained.

Cooper was one of 16 science students who shared their findings at the symposium, which took place in the Fonseca Center’s Sharon Room. All of the students have been taking Science Research, a course where they work on a long-term independent research project under the direction of upper school science teacher Kristina Gremski. In addition to projects on environmental science, students displayed their work on topics in behavioral science, biology, chemistry and engineering. 

Presenting their research on large posters in front of family and faculty gave students the opportunity to work on their public speaking, a valuable skill for the nascent researchers. 

“One of my favorite moments of the evening was the time right before guests started showing up when the students were standing by their posters, practicing their presentations out loud to themselves,” Gremski shared. She appreciated “seeing their dedication and positive, though nervous, energy.”

“It was great practice for elevator speeches, and I was able to get into a rhythm early,” Cooper said. “It also helped me understand my project better. The many questions posed helped challenge me to make my research even stronger.”

For Jessie Xie ’24, an interest in behavioral science led to her research project: “Examining the Correlation Between School Activities and Adolescents’ Social Connectedness.”  

“My whole ninth grade year was remote so I wasn’t able to connect with people the way that in-person students can. A lot of my friends were feeling alone due to experiencing remote classes or quarantine,” Xie explained. “I was really interested and curious to see whether going back to school in person, but more importantly, actually doing those school activities as they did pre-pandemic would make them feel more connected.”

Nine of the students are heading to the Somers Science Fair this weekend, where they will present their proposed research and compete against science students from other Westchester County schools. 

Science Department Chair Dana McNamee is pleased with the students’ efforts. “I am impressed by the depth of their work, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how some of these proposals develop in the coming years,” she said.