Tby Ryan O’Connor ’19
This past Tuesday, students across the freshman, sophomore, and junior divisions displayed their research and experiments at Chaminade’s 47th Annual Science Fair. A variety of different projects were presented before a panel of judges composed of Chaminade science teachers, all of whom were far from disappointed with the results.
As science department chairman Bro. Benjamin Knapp, S.M. ’93 explained, “For me, the highlight is always seeing the enthusiasm, the excitement, in the students’ eyes. At the beginning of the fair, the students are almost giffy in anticipation.”
Earlier in the trimester, science teachers nominated the top projects in each of their classes to move on to this school-wide competition. Therefore, it goes without saying that each project was impressive in its own way. A few examples of what some of Chaminade’s innovative minds came up with:
Freshmen Kyle Kennelly and Chris Mattone explored how different liquids affected the growth of bacteria. “In all, we really enjoyed working on this project,” Kyle reflected. “We were really surprised with the results and the significant differences between various liquids.”
Grant Natindim ’21 discovered how artificial and natural decomposers affected the rate of decomposition on plants. “I’m satisfied with the work I put into my project,” said Grant. “It was a fun and interesting experience to research what chemicals were used in herbicide to decompose plants.”
Many students at Chaminade drink coffee before school each day, and to get an insight on the physiological effects of caffeine on humans, Jack Viscuso ’21 observed how Daphnia magna (small planktonic crustaceans) respond to caffeine in various concentrations. An increased concentration of caffeine resulted in rising heart rates.
Massimo Posillico ’21 discovered which disinfectant wipes were most effective combating germs and bacteria, also comparing them to water. He explained, “This project made me realize which cleaning methods work the best using Petri dishes, which not only informed me what method to use in the future, but also took me through a fun and interesting experiment to perform and present.”
Harry Divaris ’20 tested the efficacy of different natural and synthetic antifungal agents on yeast. Yeast is a fungus, so by measuring the amount of CO2 produced, it was determined which was the most effective antifungal agent.
Sophomores Tim Weber, Matt Peluso and Matt Malerba studied the effects of gravity compression over the course of a day. Testing five subjects over five days, they found that gravity is pretty tough on our bodies! Their hypothesis was correct, as the results showed that nighttime measurements are almost always shorter.
Later in the evening, awards were presented to students in each category. Jack Viscuso was awarded with Best in Freshman Biology, Colin Ruggeberg won Best in Sophomore Biology, and James Messina was awarded with Best in Junior Chemistry. Finally, the judges picked sophomore Nicholas Sathi, who studied the impact of light on Drosophila melanogaster reproduction, for Best in Show.
While only a few students took awards home, each one left having demonstrated a genuine curiosity and drive to learn.
“It’s so great to see many young men who are so passionate about science—so impressive, ” Bro. Ben pointed out.
As Chaminade continues its push to advance STEM education and better prepare students for the changing landscape of our society, it is edifying to see bright minds like these already eager to take that next step.