A unique learning opportunity for five Shoreham-Wading River High School students allowed them to be virtual researchers as part of Brookhaven National Laboratory’s SPARK (Student Partnerships for Advanced Research and Knowledge) program. Students Derek Blanco, Matthew Cerniglia, Nikolaos Chantis, James Minetti and Dongkai Zhang participated in the renowned institution’s annual opportunity for high school students.
Working with educators, researchers and students from area districts, and with Shoreham-Wading River Science Research teacher Dana Schaefer, the student-scientists analyzed wood and nail samples retrieved from two 19th-century shipwrecks – one from the Great Lakes and one from the Long Island Sound. Forms of elemental sulfur and iron found in freshwater versus saltwater environments are being compared by researchers to determine the impact the deterioration of these shipwrecks may have on the organisms living within those bodies of water.
The students’ initial data presented on their poster, “Analysis of Elemental Variations and Their Effects on Freshwater and Saltwater Shipwrecks,” is a preliminary look at one set of the samples. Along with Mrs. Schaefer, they will continue with additional analysis during the school year on the remaining samples, with a discussion to be presented at its conclusion.
“We are so proud of these students and Mrs. Schaefer’s leadership in inspiring this hypothesis-driven research through collaborations with scientific experts,” Principal Frank Pugliese said. “It is another powerful motivator in helping our students considering careers in the STEAM fields.”