Sophomore Researchers Attend Kathy Belton Science Fair

Sophomore research students at the Kathy Belton Science Fair

Katy Gottlieb

Sophomore research students at the Kathy Belton Science Fair

Dellacona (L) and Roth (R) pose with their project (Katy Gottlieb)
Gottlieb, Ramirez, and Santoli (L-R) (Katy Gottlieb)

Nine sophomore science research students attended the annual Kathy Belton Science Fair at Molloy University on Friday, March 17. As explained by sophomore researcher Kate Santoli, “Kathy Belton is a science research competition for ninth and tenth graders at Molloy University. Each team conducted an investigation and created a poster to showcase their project to judges.” 

To start off the day, the students met at LHS’s research room. They rehearsed their scripts, grabbed their posters, and then were driven to Molloy. Once they arrived, they checked in and got their IDs and drawstring Molloy bags, each containing a t-shirt, water bottle, and pamphlet of the other projects. In the gym, the students practiced their scripts and walked around to other projects while awaiting judging. One group of LHS sophomores, including Gabriella Ramirez, Kate Santoli, and Katy Gottlieb, presented their project entitled “The Effect of Air Quality on the Biodiversity of Lichens on Long Island.” Santoli explained, “For our project, we went to two parks with different air qualities to collect samples of lichens from trees and then counted the different species and did several calculations to find each park’s biodiversity.” 

Fellow sophomore researchers Evie Dellacona and Kelsey Roth presented their project entitled “Comparing Biodiversity of Barnacles in Long Island’s South Shore Estuaries with and without Wastewater Effluent in Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant and the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant.” Dellacona related, “We looked at [the barnacles’] DNA as well as morphology, which are physical characteristics, to determine the differences and evaluated the diversity from there.” 

Each group’s project had two to three judges. The students explained their projects and then answered questions. Looking back, Santoli recalled that the experience was “nerve wracking but still fun.” She added, “It was scary when the judges started coming in because we didn’t know when they would come to our table. However, by the second judge, I was relaxed and was having fun presenting and talking about our project.” Her favorite part of the day was viewing other students’ projects and meeting kids from other schools. “It was cool to see what other people came up with.” 

Although the research process was long and rigorous, the students felt it was worth it in the end when the day of the Kathy Belton competition came. Roth said, “My favorite part was visiting different locations on Long Island to collect barnacle samples and having the ability to present our research to the judges. I also enjoyed walking around the fair and seeing other students’ projects.” Dellacona added, “My favorite part was meeting kids from other schools who are as passionate about research as Kelsey and I [are].” The two ended up winning first place in their category, Earth and Environmental Science, out of 33 other projects. Roth added, “It felt amazing to win first place out of 33 projects in the Earth and Environmental Science category after all of the hard work and late nights Evie and I spent working on our research project.” Dellacona felt the same way: “It felt great to win because being rewarded for something that you put so much effort into always elicits a good feeling. I’m really proud and happy I got to work with Kelsey because she is such an amazing student and friend.”After a lunch of pizza, Caesar salad, brownies, and various kinds of cookies, the students headed back to LHS, making it just in time for Class Night.