Pollock said he chose to study autism because his twin brother, Zachary, was diagnosed with the disorder at an early age. He was considered “high-functioning,” though, and in his early teens he asked to be removed from the special-education track at school. Zachary was already an “inclusion” student, which allowed him to study in mainstream classes, with help from a special-education teacher. But he wanted to be fully mainstreamed, like his brother.
This year, Zachary will graduate from Kennedy with a 93 average in mainstream classes and an acceptance letter to SUNY Farmingdale, where he plans to study computer engineering.
Joshua said that his Intel project was a tribute to his brother. He conducted a “stroop test” with three groups –– typically developed children, children with Asperger syndrome and children with autism. In the test, photographs of faces are flashed across a computer screen. Words like angry, sad and happy are written over the faces. Sometimes the words match the faces, sometimes they don’t. Study participants are asked to focus on the faces and identify the emotions that are expressed. They type their answers into a computer on preprogrammed buttons.
Surprisingly, Pollock found, study participants with Asperger syndrome were fastest to identify emotions. Further study is needed to determine precisely why.
Pollock is a member of Kennedy’s science club and competed in Science Olympiads last year, in the protein-modeling category. He is active in Kennedy’s One World club, which works to promote understanding of people with special needs. And he is a member of Model Congress and the math, science and Spanish honor societies.
Pollock was accepted early decision to Cornell University. Also serving as one of his Kennedy mentors was Helmut Schleith.
Corey WaldMepham High School
Wald, 17, of Bellmore, loves sports. He played Little League baseball as a child. Now he’s a fan of pro baseball, football, basketball and hockey. So it was only natural that Wald would combine his love of sports with his love of science when conducting his Authentic Science Research project.