We’re delighted to announce that four of our students are regional winners in the 2016-2017 Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition. Ninth graders Louis Viglietta, Kimberly Liao, Christine Kong, and Michael Parrinello won for their team project, “Scat Scan: The Future of Microbiome Analysis.” The team was one of 24 Regional winners, chosen from thousands of entries from across the United States and Canada. As regional winners, the school will receive a Toshiba laptop, an engraved plaque, and a banner. Each team member and science teacher and mentor Richard Kurtz receive a portable hard drive and framed certificates.
“Having one of the six top teams for the Toshiba Exploravision competition is mind boggling to me,” said science teacher and mentor Richard Kurtz. “These four ninth grade students were totally dedicated, independent, and creative in developing a method that projects a technology twenty years into the future. The project idea envisions modifying the commonly used toilet to enable it to check a person's natural internal bacterial populations by analyzing human waste, allowing the information to be used as a strong indicator of a person's health.”
While the subject may be a bit off-putting, the idea relies on the study of DNA and genetics. The device envisions a retractable arm that sends a sample to a miniature glass microfluidic computer chip, which will extract DNA, then isolate the prokaryotic 16S ribosomal RNA gene using PCR amplification and sequencing. Results are sent to the user’s smartphone, providing “fast, clean, and convenient data about their microbiome health.
The team is advancing to the Nationals, and the next round of the competition requires creating a prototype of their project and a website for a chance to compete in Washington, D.C. in June for additional prizes totaling up to a $10,000 savings bond.
In addition to our regional winners, two other teams at Commack High School also received Honorable Mention (top 10%) in the competition: ninth grade students Theresa Haupt, Sarah O'Conner, and Maheen Naseem for their project: “3D Regeneration of Body Parts and Organs,” and tenth graders Aria Eghbali, and Yeil Kim for their project: “ActiveBrain - A Wearable Device to Monitor Brain Activity.”
“We commend our teams of young scientists and inventors for the caliber and depth of the research that went into the creation of these concepts,” said Dr. Donald James, Superintendent of Commack Schools, “and congratulate them on receiving recognition for their work in such a prestigious competition.”