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Siemens Science Competition Winners

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Five Great Neck high school students have been named winners in the 2016 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, one of the most prestigious student competitions in the science community. The Semifinalist from John L. Miller-Great Neck North High School is Luhan (Ophelia) Chen. Winners from William A. Shine-Great Neck South High School are Shawn Kang, Hanxuan (Eric) Kuang, Jaysen Zhang, and Aric Zhuang. North High science research teachers/advisors are Takoa Lawson, Maya Lerner, Alan Schorn, and Jessica Schust, department chair. Science research teachers/advisors at South High are Dr. Carol Hersh and Dr. James Truglio. Following are the winning students, the names of their projects, and brief project summaries. Summaries were provided by the science research teachers.

Luhan (Ophelia) Chen from North High partnered with Hanxuan (Eric) Kuang from South High - Their project is, "A Multi-Parameter Analysis of the Dark Energy Equation of State Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo Algorithms with Type la Supernova Data." Type la supernova data was analyzed using programs based on Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithms, to try to ascertain the amount and type of dark energy in the universe. The results suggested that dark energy has a large probability of being a cosmological constant, which would cause the universe to expand at an exponential rate.

South High student Shawn Kang - partnered with a student from Roslyn High School. Their project is, "Deep Learning Application in Edge Detection of Cell Images." Cell imaging is important for analyzing how harmful cells move in the body but it can be hard to distinguish between cells. A process called Deep Learning was used to predict cell edges in a cell image, with high accuracy, making images with multiple cells easier to analyze.

Jaysen Zhang's - project is, "A Cell Culture Model of Glutamine Addiction in Cancer Via the c-Myc--Sirt5--Glutaminase Axis. Jaysen's study examined how the proteins c-Myc and Sirt5 affect cellular Glutaminase activity. Since many cancer cells are addicted to Glutamine, an understanding of pathways involved in Glutamine metabolism could lead to novel treatments.

Aric Zhuang's - project is, "Reduction of Amyloid B-Mediated Lipid Peroxidation and Cytotoxicity by Helianthus Tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke): A Potential New Disease-Modifying Therapeutic for Alzheimer's Disease." Human neuroblastoma cells and fruit flies with Alzheimer's-disease characteristics were used to study the effects of an extract of Jerusalem artichoke. Treatment led to higher rates of survival for the neuroblastoma cells and greater activity in the fruit flies, suggesting that these extracts could potentially lead to disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer's.

More about the Competition - From over 1,600 projects submitted for consideration in this year's Competition, 498 were selected as Semifinalists. The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology was established in 1999 to promote excellence by encouraging students to undertake projects--working individually or in two- or three-person teams--to foster intensive research. The Competition is administered by Discovery Education and funded by the Siemens Foundation.

 

Board of Education Student Delegates

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Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education Student Delegates, representing the district's secondary schools, were introduced to the community at the Board meeting on Oct. 20. These non-voting delegates, selected by their schools, are encouraged to express opinions about educational and student matters, to voice school issues or concerns, and to take pertinent Board agenda items back to their respective schools. Board President Barbara Berkowitz explained that, after the Board speaks, the Delegates may speak on matters of importance, before members of the audience are invited to speak. Ms. Berkowitz and Superintendent Teresa Prendergast thanked the students for their service and for volunteering their time to represent their schools at Board of Education meetings. The Board has been in the vanguard regarding student participation in school affairs, initiating student delegates in 1975, a practice the State did not require until 2005.

 

New Assistant Principal at Baker School

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This school year, the E.M. Baker School welcomes Dr. Heather Sweet-Lazos as its new assistant principal. Dr. Sweet-Lazos replaces Jeffrey Ryvicker who left to become superintendent of the Quogue School District, in Suffolk County. Prior to coming to Baker, Dr. Sweet-Lazos was an assistant principal at PS100, in Queens, where, among her many duties, she supervised classroom instruction, facilitated STEM and STEAM projects, led behavior and safety committees, and organized parent workshops. She also has several years experience as a guidance counselor at PS100 and at PS146, in Manhattan. She was a part-time counselor at Great Neck's Adult Learning Center. In these counseling positions, she coordinated and presented lessons in empathy, feelings management, and communication, supported teachers, and assisted in scheduling development. Dr. Sweet-Lazos admires how the Great Neck School District cares for its community members, from early childhood to the adult years. Baker School's Mission Statement especially appeals to her, with its focus on the whole child, striving to provide "a safe and nurturing environment that fosters the cognitive, social, and personal development of each child," while cherishing the "development of a lifelong spirit of inquiry, wonder, and play." Dr. Sweet-Lazos is a marathon runner who also enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling. She comes from a close-knit family of educators. She and her husband are the proud parents of two sons. Dr. Sweet-Lazos holds a Doctorate in Educational Administration and Instructional Leadership from St. John's University, and a Master of Science, with Distinction, in Education School Counseling, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, both from Hofstra University. She holds New York State Permanent Certification in School Counseling, K-12, and Certifications as School Building Leader and School District Leader. She is working on a Certification in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a member of Phi Delta Kappa, a professional organization for educators, and of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.