A group of Baldwin students landed the top spot at Northwell Health’s annual science competition designed to encourage high school students to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
Baldwin High School 10th-graders Jessica Darcy and Rochelle Saunders and ninth-graders Reyna Palmer and Thalia Kontoleon earned first place in the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and Northwell Health’s Center for Workforce Readiness Medical Marvels competition.
In its ninth year, the contest was fully virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic. The science fair asks ninth- and 10th-graders to research and outline a public health issue and develop a plan to combat it. This year’s topic was gun violence.
More than 150 students took part, sharing three-minute videos of their ideas to end gun violence, and attended a virtual conference on March 5.
The victory for the all-female team happened just in time for International Women’s Day, which was recognized on March 8. It was the first time Baldwin High School had participated in the competition in several years, and the team took home a $1,800 prize, to be used in the Government and Law Academy.
The Academic Academies in the Baldwin School District aim to immerse students in specific areas of study where they can work alongside professionals within a given field.
Students from 18 schools across Nassau and Suffolk counties were asked to address the issue of gun violence. Teams were required to submit three-minute recorded presentations that included scientific research assessment of the topic, a technological component and a public health policy strategy to detail how to curb gun violence across the state, Northwell Health representatives explained in a news release.
A panel of scientists, clinicians and health-care administrators evaluated each video using a five-point scale. Applications were judged for innovation, clarity, approach and measurement of success.
“For nine years, we have challenged Long Island’s students to address some of the most pressing public health and scientific topics,” Cheryl Davidson, senior director of Northwell Health’s Center for Workforce Readiness, said in a statement. “This unique competition helps kick-start a positive dialogue between Feinstein Institutes researchers and our nation’s rising STEM stars.”
Darcy, Saunders, Palmer and Kontoleon presented a suggested solution to decrease gun deaths by 70 percent over an 18-year period in the United States. Because 60 percent of firearm deaths are suicides, proposed legislation included mental health screenings and monitoring, drugs tests, background checks and safety courses for gun purchasers.
“Not only did our high school students successfully present a solution to a real-world issue, but they did so under extraordinary circumstances,” Baldwin Superintendent Dr. Shari Camhi said in a statement, adding that district officials are proud of the students. “Congratulations to this team of talented, bright young women who are nothing short of inspiring.”
“Kudos, as well, to Mr. Chris Russo and the teachers and staff who helped make this possible,” Camhi continued, referring to the social studies teachers who also teach courses in the Government and Law Academy.
During the conference portion of the Medical Marvels competition, Northwell leaders shared insights into gun violence, including a keynote address by Dr. Chethan Sathya, director of Northwell’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Trauma, and a pediatric general and thoracic surgeon.
Additionally, students learned how to “stop the bleed” during an interactive workshop by Dr. Matthew Bank, a critical-care surgeon. Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign that encourages bystanders to become trained to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.
Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, assistant vice president of addiction services for Northwell’s Emergency Medicine Services, called on students to continue their work in this field by sharing an inspiring message.
“These students will be future scientific leaders and innovators,” Dr. Kevin Tracey, president and chief executive officer of the Feinstein Institutes, said in a statement. “At the Feinstein Institutes, we support and encourage them to pursue impactful and rewarding careers in STEM fields.”
The team from New Hyde Park Memorial High School placed second, while John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore finished third in this year’s competition.