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Did You Know....CHS Science Team Finalists in D.C.
Exploravision D.C.Commack High School's National Finalist Team in the Exploravision Competition is in Washington, D.C. this week on an expense-paid trip with mentor teacher Richard Kurtz for the awards ceremony.

Sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association, daily activities include the ExploraVision Science fair in Rayburn Foyer, where our students meet with government officials including members of Congress, staffers, and professionals in the STEM policy community. The students took a special tour of the Capital Building.

Added to all that, the students were interviewed by the media after rehearsing at the National Press Club. Students walked over to the Rayburn office building in the morning on Thursday, where they participated in a science exposition for dignitaries of the government, Toshiba, and National Science Teachers Association. Students met with Congress Rep Thomas Souzzi and aids from Congress reps Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand's office. Team member Louis was included on a panel at the Kennedy Caucus Room where he talked about the group's experience and answered questions from the host.

Ninth grade students Christine, Kimberly, Michael, and Louis, along with teacher and mentor Richard Kurtz, won this all expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national awards ceremony. Each student winner received a $5,000 U.S. EE Savings Bond. Mr. Kurtz received NSTA membership for one year and an all expense-paid trip to one of the NSTA conferences of his choice as an ExploraVision Ambassador. As Regional winners each team member and Mr. Kurtz already received a portable hard drive and framed certificates. The school was awarded a Toshiba laptop, an engraved plaque, and a banner that will be proudly mounted in the hallway of our High School.
The ExploraVision competition challenges students to envision and communicate new technology that would be feasible 20 years into the future and that would solve a real world problem. Our group came up with "Scat Scan: The Future of Microbiome Analysis," which would use a retractable arm to deliver a sample of feces to a miniature glass microfluidic computer chip, which would then extract DNA and isolate the prokaryotic 16S ribosomal RNA gene using PCR amplification and sequencing. Results would be sent to the user's smartphone, providing "fast, clean, and convenient data about their microbiome health."

Exploravision“We are very proud that our students and our renowned high school science research program are once again receiving national recognition,” said Dr. Donald James, Superintendent. “Their vision of the future may well advance the discovery and treatment of medical conditions and enhance the health of generations to come.”

From Mr. Kurtz:
June 9th was an intense and exiting day for our Toshiba ExploraVision students; the students went into the day with little knowledge of what was in store. It was all pretty secret. Getting early the group headed to the National Press club, they went to the TV studio, put on makeup and set up for three interviews with TV stations in Sacramento, Baltimore and Buffalo. There was really no way of knowing what would happen. The students were guided and interviewed by astronaut Leland Melville, During the TV time slots he asked the students questions about their research and what they go out of the experience. The interviews went great and it proved to be a lot of fun.

The next part of the day was spent going over their projects informally with government officials, Toshiba executives, past winners of the contest (honoring the 25th anniversary of ExploraVision) and representatives of the National Teachers Association. The students stood by their poster boards, showed people their prototype and used their website to explain their ideas. After some introductions and speeches Michael eloquently explained the project to a packed room of dignitaries and the seven other winning projects. In the evening the Commack party attended the Awards Gala banquet. There was a lot of excitement in the air especially when unannounced Bill Nye the Science Guy showed up. He was definitely the Rock Star of the Evening along with charismatic Leland Melville. We heard inspiring speeches that essentially honored the students and encouraged them to stay in the fields of STEM and to dream big work hard and get involved in solving pressing challenges that we face in the world.

Speakers included the CEO of Toshiba America, the president of the National Teachers Association, NSF the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and of course Leland Melvin and Bill Nye. The students and their teacher were presented with awards and plaques and got autographs. They also met Nancy Roman a 92 year old scientist/astronomer who was instrumental in the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. The ExploraVision experience which began in September and ended on Friday was something this students will always cherish.

The students' project video can be found here: http://scatscan.weebly.com/.
Photos from the Regional Awards Ceremony - See more at: http://www.commackschools.org/EventPhotos.aspx
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