Showing their ‘grit’

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Isseroff helped guide Chen through the research process. Sullivan oversaw Chapin’s and Tse’s research as well as Sosnowik’s project, “The Coactivation of Positive and Negative Feelings: Film Genres’ Effects on Adolescent Emotions.”

Kay’s project was titled, “Why Do Bullies Bully? An Examination of the Role of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors in Motivating and Enabling Bullying Behavior.”

Research pays off

The Five Towns students were among 300 semifinalists who will each receive $1,000 awards for their research. In addition, their schools will receive $1,000 for each semifinalist. There were 1,712 entrants from 467 high schools in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Guam as well as two overseas U.S. schools.

“It continues to show that people underrate teenagers,” said Sullivan, who is in his 30th year of teaching. “They’re branded as irresponsible, but teenagers are pretty amazing. If they get the support, encouragement and resources, they do things that are amazing.”

Chapin based her research on a program used in the Czech Republic. She surveyed Lawrence high and middle school students, along with children at the Progressive School of Long Island, in Merrick, and found that adolescent boys are better at spatial learning than girls. “The boys had better strategies, using landmarks to find their goals,” Chapin said. “The girls were more egocentric.”

Articles by Dr. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania prompted Tse’s interest in her topic. She contacted Duckworth, who provided the surveys. Revising the college-geared questions for middle-school students, Tse found that her results were the opposite of her initial hypothesis. “Originally, I believed grit would be a better predictor of [grade point average] than IQ,” she said. “It turned that IQ was the better predictor.”

Chen, a semifinalist in the 2011 Siemens Competition with Tse and classmate Sneha Chittabathini for their project on solar cells, applied Masih’s work with graphene to solar cells and found that the blend, dotted with gold nanoparticles, increased the electricity-conducting efficiency of solar cells by 50 percent.

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