Course Description

Science Research Program – Grades 9, 10, 11, 12


Full Year – Level H: Incoming freshman and sophomore students must apply for admission to this program in January of the prior academic year. Acceptance into the program will be based on a science teacher recommendation, a written essay, and excellent academic grades.


This is an ongoing program that is taken in conjunction with the student’s regular science course. There are several tiers to the program. During Year 1 students learn the components of scientific research including the scientific method and apply these concepts in various settings including designing and conducting an authentic science research project and communicating results by participation in at least one local science fair. Students also explore various applications of science topics through field trips, guest speakers and class projects. Advanced students (Years 2-4) select their science research topic, locate an out-of-school mentor (either in industry or at a local university) and compete in a variety of science fairs including the CT State Science Fair, Southern CT Invitational Science and Engineering Fair (SCSEF) and the CT Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (CT JSHS). Advanced students pursue their selected research in depth, perform statistical analysis and compete at a number of local and/or national science fairs and competitions. In Years 2, 3, and 4 students are grouped together in a non-traditional classroom setting and are required to meet individually outside of class with their Science Research Instructor biweekly to review individual goals and assess progress. All students participate in the culminating annual activity, Amity’s Science Symposium.


Monday, October 17, 2011

2011-12 Research Proposals - Advanced

Please place your 2011-12 Research Proposal on this Post. Proposals should be approximately 250 words. Be sure to include your name (or initials) and research title followed by a single paragraph including:

Research Question
Hypothesis
Variables
Methods
Location
Mentor (if applicable)

28 comments:

  1. Zelun Wang
    Proposal 2011-2012

    Exploring the relationship between soil chemistry and water quality at the upper Cove River Watershed

    The Cove River watershed drains an area of about 13km2. A previous study in this area examined whether the presence of a golf course located north of the Cove River watershed affects dissolved nitrate concentrations (NO3¬¬-) in the tributaries of the watershed. While it was found that dissolved nitrate levels were on average 0.2mg/L higher in the tributary from the golf course than in the control tributary, this difference is minimal and it is unclear whether the difference is caused by the golf course fertilization or by difference in the soil composition adjacent to the two tributaries. How does soil composition of the upper Cove River watershed affect the water quality? Water data (temperature, dissolved oxygen, dissolved nitrate, pH and electrical conductivity) will be collected at 2 week intervals throughout summer-fall of 2011. Soil characterizations will be conducted at several locations along the upper Cove River watershed. Supernatants extracted from soil samples will be tested for pH, dissolved nitrate concentration, nitrogen availability, phosphorus availability, and potassium availability. All data will be collected using Vernier electronic probeware and field kits. Other environmental factors such as plant growth and weather will be taken into consideration. It is hypothesized that soil with pH close to neutral will contain the highest amounts of N, P, and K due to the chemical properties of these nutrients in soil. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that soil nitrate concentration will be directly related to water nitrate concentration. The relationship between precipitation and electrical conductivity in the tributaries will also be explored.

    Completion level: I finished the field data collection phase. I will still need to do some laboratory procedures.

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  2. Jordan Henck
    Proposal
    Effect of Indexing String Length On Speed and Memory Usage for Digital Karyotyping Query Algorithms - Probing the TP53 Tumor Protein Gene Responsible For Breast, Colorectal, and Lung Cancers

    Mutations in genes are one of the causes for diseases like cancer. Unfortunately, many genes make up a single chromosome making it difficult to not only identify a specific gene but determine if a mutation has occurred. Having a rapid and efficient method to search, find and identify genes and their mutations will help scientists not only discover these disease causing mutations but help to cure the disease. Digital karyotyping query algorithms use indexing to help search for specific gene sequences within large genomic databases. It is hypothesized that as the length of the indexing string gets larger then the computation processes will be faster but will use up more memory. The independent variable in this study would be the n-mer (indexing string length) while the dependent variables would be the memory and speed of the algorithm. The control group would be a string length of one base. The constants would be the string input used to search the TP53 Tumor Protein Gene as well as the background computer activity and the computer itself. The experiment only requires a computer, Eclipse (an open source java programming platform), and the NCBI Human Genome Database. The experiment consists of three steps that include developing the indexing algorithm, running the algorithm, and finally analyzing the data (speed and memory usage). This experiment will be done using my home computer as standard computers are readily available to scientists, physicians, and health care professions who in the future will need such algorithms to help identify and cure disease. This experiment will also be done under the supervision of Dr. Michael Braverman, Head of Software and Bioinfomatics at 454 Life Sciences.

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  3. Jennifer Zhu
    Facial Recognition

    Recently, Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study where they showed pictures to people in an MRI and looked into identifying which parts of the brain were involved in recognizing the person in the picture. Surprisingly, the fusiform and anterior temporal regions of the brain responded with distinct patterns to different people-showing that they worked together! Based upon this information, the research question arose-How long does it take people to process a face and remember it if they see it again?
    The experiment will be conducted online, in the form of a survey. The independent variables will be the different people shown in pictures, and the angle from which the photo was taken. The dependent variable is the amount of time it takes for the participant to determine whether or not the photo shown was a photo of a person shown before, taken at a different angle, or a new photo of a different person. The participants will be shown a total of 10 photos per survey; however, there will be 3surveys in a set. Each survey will change to incorporate different categories; starting from gender, to similar ethnicity, to similar age. The constants are that the people in the photo will be in front of a white background, that females with long hair will have it tied back, and that the photos will be only from neck up. In addition, the photos will be in black and white. It is hypothesized that the participants will have a longer reaction time the closer the ethnicity of the people in the photos are.
    My mentor is Dr. Stephen Joy

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  4. The Effectiveness of Various Plant Species on the Phytoextraction of Metals
    Soil contamination is a troublesome problem throughout the U.S. Fertilizers and pesticides containing levels of lead, cadmium and other harmful metals are constantly being added to the environment and ending up in the soil. Over the years these traces of metals add up causing potentially dangerous situations. Currently, the most environmentally friendly method of soil remediation is phytoextraction, the use of plants to extract contaminants from soil. Each plant species is unique in its effectiveness in removing metals and so it is important to test as many plants as possible. This study will be a comparative study testing several flowering plants for their effectiveness and the research question is as follows: How effective is the phytoextraction of metal with the use of various species of flowering plants? It's hypothesized that if several types of flowering plants are used for phytoextraction, then the Cerastium Tomentosum (snow-in-summer) will be most effective because it is the largest of the flowers and thus will store the most metal. In order to test these, plants seeds must first be planted. Several seeds of each type of plant will be planted in small trays and multiple trays will be made for each type of plant. After three weeks fertilizer with levels of metal will be added to the soil containing the plants. As a control, each type of plant species will be allowed to grow without the addition of the fertilizer. After four weeks the flower plants will be trimmed down to the soil surface then dried and five grams of the dried plant will be tested in a spectrometer for levels of various metal levels. If the flowering plants are found to be effective the environment can be cleaned and made beautiful simultaneously. This study will be conducted at SCSU under the guidance of Dr. Fleming.

    -David Powers

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  5. SHRiYyuuuUuUuUuu ZhuangOctober 17, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Using Photodynamic Therapy for Wound Healing

    Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a novel, minimally invasive, multi-drug resistant microbial approach at treating many different medical conditions, even including certain cancers. PDT uses a non-toxic photosensitizer drug activated by low intensity light. The focus of this project is to determine if PDT can expedite the healing process. It is hypothesized that the use of PDT can help to stimulate angiogenesis and kill bacteria, promoting the wound healing process. For this experiment, the photosensitizer drug is Rose Bengal poly-L-lysine chlorin coryngated and the light source is from Laser KL 1500. The independent variable is the combination of drug and light that is applied to the wound (just Rose Bengal, just laser, both, nothing). The dependent variable is the possible growth of angiogenesis and the bacteria count. Mice will be used and anesthetized so that pain will not be felt. A circular skin puncture instrument 0.25 cm will be used to make two punctures on the mid-back, parallel to each other on opposite sides of the spine. Each wound will be applied with fluorescent bacteria (type yet to be determined). Randomized applications of just 0.02 mL of the photosensitizer, just 2 minutes exposure to the laser, a combination of both, and as the control, nothing, will be applied to the wounds. After 3 days, 7 days, and 14 days, a laser Doppler scan will be used to determine if angiogenesis occurred. After, fluorescent dye will be added, and the wound examined under a fluorescent microscope to conclude if bacteria count was reduced for certain types of applications. A skin culture will be performed at the end of the first and second week. The applicability of this experiment is to help soldiers treat wounds to reduce the chances of infection and speed up the healing process on the battlefield.

    Competition level: In progress at Yale for 3 weeks.
    Pilot data has been completed, and results are in the process of being analyzed. Pilot data consisted of all methodology except with the use of fluorescent bacteria.

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  6. The Relation Between Autism Spectrum Disorders and Familial Major Mood Disorders
    Autism is a psychological developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction, communication skills, and repetitive behavior. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of disorders characterized also by irregularities in social interaction and communication and spans a wider range of disorders including Autism, Asperger syndrome, and Rett syndrome. Major Mood Disorders (MMD) are classified as mental disorders where a disturbance in a person’s mood is the main problem. The two major mood disorders are Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. Both ASD and MMD are hereditary, with the chances of passing down ASD being very high. However, recent data from Duke University has shown that many children with ASD have parents that are or have been diagnosed with clinical depression. Is there a relation between ASD and Familial Major Mood Disorders? Since ASD and MMD are both hereditary, and many children with Autism have parents with clinical depression, it is hypothesized that there is a relation between MMD and ASD. The IV in this experiment would be the presence of mood disorders in parents or family history of mood disorders of children with autism spectrum disorders and the DV would be the relation between familial MMD and ASD. To test this, the researcher would gather participants with Autism Spectrum Disorders and observe the degree of the disorder. Then the researcher would interview the parents or look at medical records of the parents to see if they are suffering from any MMD or have had a family history of MMD. Then, a correlation could be established between MMD in parents and ASD in children to see if having MMD can increase the chances of ASD in offspring.

    Andrew Chen

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  7. Cindy Guo
    The Effect of Computer Video Games on Learning Processes of Children with Dyslexia
    Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. It is a learning deficit of one’s reading, spelling, writing, and speaking. Dyslexia is caused by impairment in the brain’s ability to translate images received from the eyes or ear. In addition, it is most common in boys and it is not related to mental retardation or brain damage. In this study, children with dyslexia will test whether computer video games affect their ability to read and spell. This is a psychological study used to explore deeper into how the minds of children with dyslexia learn better. It was hypothesized that if a child with dyslexia utilizes computer video games for their reading and spelling skills, then they will improve their ability to read and spell. The independent variable of this study is the type of assessment they will be taking. Some will play with computer games while others will be given written assessments on the computer. The dependent variable is the improvement of child’s ability to read and spell. The improvement will be measured by the overall score. There will be no control for this study. To start this study, children ages 12-14 with dyslexia will take home a survey where they will complete with their parents about their dyslexia. Then, I will assign half the children with computer video games while I give the other half the computer instructional assessments. Every child is only given a half hour. After their time is up, only children who played with computer video games will be asked to take a quiz on their new knowledge.

    This study will be conducted at the Yale Child Study Center with Dr. Bennett Shaywitz. This proposal will have to be reworked.

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  8. Qi Yan
    The Effect of Polyvinylpyrrolidone Fusion on the Acute damage of Renal Function
    The kidneys are one of the body’s most important organs. Their functions include filtering the blood and the body’s waste. The kidneys are susceptible to damage from various things. One such thing is the water soluble polymer Polyvinylpyrrolidone(PVP). This polymer was first synthesized by Dr. Walter Reppe and was used in the mid 20th century as a blood plasma expander to help victims, especially soldiers, replenish blood. Though it was used to save lives in the past, the use PVP is actually harming the human body. A study done by Dr. Dunn at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan in the mid 1990’s show that once PVP is inside the body, it can’t be naturally excreted out of the body. Over time, excess use of PVP leads to a condition called PVP Storage Disease. Dr.Dunn discovered that this condition will develop over the course of five years. His research also showed that PVP Storage Disease begins to damage each of the body’s organs differently. The purpose of this project is to find out if acute renal failure exists in addition to chronic renal failure, which has been already discovered. If acute renal failure does in fact exist, then which part of the body would have the most damaged done t it? It’s hypothesized that due to the nature of PVP, the proximal tubule would be the component most affected by the PVP, and acute renal failure would occur there. To conduct this project, blood and urine samples must be collected from Wistar rats. Then using kits, the BUN, NAG, and Alpha-1 levels must be measured using a spectrometer. If the levels are higher than the standard levels, then depending on which kit is above standard levels, then the body part related to the kit is damaged. The independent variable is amount of time PVP is injected into the body while the dependent variable is presence of PVP Storage Disease. The control would be the injection of saline solution instead of PVP. This research will be conducted at Yale University.

    This project is half way done with 1 and a half trials done. This project should be done by the end of November.

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  9. The purpose of this study is to explore the link between social fear and racial stereotyping. A study conducted in 2010 that was published in Current Biology did a study on people with Williams Syndrome (WS). WS people to have abnormal activity in the part of the brain related to social fear, or the amygdala. Therefore, they are overly friendly. The study showed that people with Williams Syndrome are not racially stereotypical. However, they still have gender stereotypes. This hints that racial stereotypes and social fear are directly related. People with WS have no social fear, and no racial stereotypes. The independent variable will be the amount of social fear the children have. The dependent variable will be the degree of the children’s racial stereotypes. This is a correlation study, so there is no control. The hypothesis is that children who are more socially afraid will have a greater degree of racial stereotypes, while children who have less social fear will have fewer racial stereotypes. To conduct the experiment, gather 30-40 children aged 5-6. Use an undetermined method to measure the children’s social fear and ethnicity. Then, tell the children a few simple stories with characters that are obviously good or obviously bad. Have pictures of different people who look exactly the same, with skin/hair/ethnic features being their only differences. Inform the children to pick the characters out of these pictures. If the results seem random, there is little racial stereotype, but if there is a pattern, then the child has a higher degree of racial stereotype. Compare the results of the story telling assessment with the children’s social fear (as told by their parents). Draw correlations and make conclusions

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  10. The purpose of this year’s project is to discover any ant-attractive substances on the Northern Catalpa. Myrmecophyte, or “ant plant”, is a species of plants that naturally attracts ants through the presences of ant friendly-structures, such as a hollow interior that ants can harmlessly utilize as shelter, and/or perhaps specific chemicals. The existence of natural ant-attractive chemicals is shown by research completed in 1990 by Professor Jean L. Seidel et al in which Methyl-6-methyl-salicylate is shown to attract South American ants. The Northern Catalpa, a tree naturally found in the Northern Hemisphere, is a Myrmecophyte. If Seidel’s research holds true for trees in the Northern Hemisphere, then it is hypothesized that an ant-attractive chemical can be found on the Northern Catalpa. The ants used in this project will be pogonomyrmex, or Bearded Ants. The Northern Catalpa’s bark will be the subject of this year’s research. A Soxhlett extractor will be used as the extraction apparatus. Various solvents of different polarity will be used for extraction. After the extraction phase, a small sample of each of the extracted chemicals will then be placed onto a filter paper in a Petri Dish with 25 Bearded Ants, whose behavior to each isolated chemical will be observed via video camera. The independent variable is the chemical that the ants are exposed to. The dependent variable is the amount of ants that physically touch with their antennae the small drop of chemical. Research completed by Douglas Yu in the Amazon has shown that ants will utilize whatever tree they can find if nearby Mrymecophytes are exhausted of their resources or not present. Therefore, by applying the newly discovered ant-attractive chemical on other trees, the trees will be protected by the ants that are lead there, allowing the trees to live longer since they are less vulnerable to parasites. The longer-living trees will help alleviate the effects of global warming by absorbing more carbon dioxide than trees living for a shorter amount of time.
    -Brian Liang

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  11. Effects of a Polycaprolactone Tissue Scaffold in Rattus Norvegicus on Blood Flow

    This study aims to determine if polycaprolactone can be used in tissue scaffolding. Caprolactone is a biodegradable polyester with a low melting point of around 60°C. PCL is prepared by ring opening polymerization of ε-caprolactone using a catalyst. To produce PCL, a catalyst is combined with caprolactone, then heated and frozen. The PCL that is created is a white fluffy polymer that has several different interesting chemical and physical characteristics that were observed in a previous study. This year, it will be tested to see if this polycaprolactone can be used in vivo. Specifically, the effectiveness of polycaprolactone will be tested in a rat body. The independent variable is the type of scaffold material used, while the dependent variable is the success as a scaffolding material based on blood flow. It is hypothesized that polycaprolactone will be a viable tissue scaffolding material in place of polylactic acid, a polymer successfully being used in tissue engineering in vitro. Qualitative observations, such as the appearance of the rat, will be noted in a laboratory notebook. The effects will be measured quantitatively by taking a small sample of the heart and counting the platelets. A scaffold for the heart was created, and then that scaffold was used in a rat. For data analysis, tables and graphs will be used. This study will be taking place UConn – Storrs with the assistance of Professor Kazem Kazerounian and Chris Chen, an undergraduate student.

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  12. The effect of Northern Catalpa Bark chemicals on Pogonomyrmex barbatus
    The purpose of this year’s project is to discover any ant-attractive substances on the Northern Catalpa. Myrmecophyte, or “ant plant”, is a species of plants that naturally attracts ants through the presences of ant friendly-structures, such as a hollow interior that ants can harmlessly utilize as shelter, and/or perhaps specific chemicals. Research completed in 1990 by Professor Jean L. Seidel et al shows that Methyl-6-methyl-salicylate attracts South American ants. The Northern Catalpa, a tree naturally found in the Northern Hemisphere, is a Myrmecophyte. Considering Seidel’s research, perhaps an ant-attractive chemical can be found on the Northern Catalpa. The ants used in this project will be Pogonomyrmex barbatus, or red harvester ants. The Northern Catalpa’s bark will be the subject of this year’s research. A Soxhlett extractor will be the extraction apparatus. Various solvents of different polarity will be used for extraction. After the extraction phase, the reaction of 25 red harvester ants to each isolated chemical in a Petri Dish will be observed via video camera. The independent variable is the chemical that the ants are exposed to. Chemical identities will be discerned through GCMS analysis after the extractions. The dependent variable is the amount of ants that physically touch the small drop of chemical with their antennae. Research completed by Douglas Yu in the Amazon has shown that ants will utilize whatever tree they can find if nearby Mrymecophytes are exhausted of their resources or not present. Therefore, by applying the newly discovered ant-attractive chemical on other trees, the trees will be protected by the ants that are lead there, allowing the trees to live longer since they are less vulnerable to parasites. The longer-living trees will help alleviate the effects of global warming by absorbing more carbon dioxide than trees living for a shorter amount of time.
    Completion status: The research has been in progress for a week in total (Mentor and researcher meet weekly on Friday and Saturday) at Southern Connecticut State University. The research started on approximately September 19th.

    Brian Liang

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  13. The Correlation Between Acute Stress And Frontal Lobe Function In High School Students
     
    Izabela Banka
     
    Stress is the psychological reaction when one is forced to adapt to a new situation that is perceived as difficult to cope with. The physiological and psychological affects of stress compound, creating even more stress. Chronic stress causes serious symptoms such as weakened immune system and heart. Scientists have recently discovered that chronic stress decreases overall cognitive ability, especially in males. Acute stress, resulting from the issues that a person deals with on a daily basis, does cause small-scale symptoms, yet it is unknown whether or not it causes a decline in frontal lobe activity. The frontal lobe deals with higher-order thinking, planning, judgement, memory, and motor skills. The researcher is investigating how high school student's acute stress level correlate with their executive function? It is hypothesized there is a correlation between high acute stress level and high executive function performance. Senior students enrolled in AP courses will be asked to take the Self-Evaluation Scale (SES; Speilberger et.al). The SES is a reputable psychological test quantifying acute stress levels. Once complete, data will be analyzed to examine the participants frontal lobe function though the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, also a reputable test used to quantify executive function. This test is generally given on a one on one basis. Of this will be used a computerized version. Proceeding the tests, the researcher will analyze both sets of data with her mentor, Dr. Richard Kaplan, a neuropsychologist at the University of Connecticut, for a possible correlation between students who had high cognitive performance along with a high acute stress level. Data will continue to be collected from high school students, not just seniors enrolled in AP.

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  14. The Correlation between Lucid Dreaming and Ventromedial versus Dorsolateral Prefrontal Task Performance in Adults



    The purpose of this study is to determine whether there is any correlation between lucid dreaming and the Ventromedial and Dorsolateral Prefrontal performance. It is hypothesized that the conclusions that were made in the first study, that lucid dreamers performed better than regular dreamers in tasks, such as the Iowa Gambling Task, that engaged the VMF; but they performed no better than regular dreamers in tasks, like the Wisconsin Card Sort Task, which exercised the DPC, will be made with the data from the study with adults. The Iowa Gambling Task engages the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex, while the Wisconsin Card Sort Task engages the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex. The Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex (VMF) is involved in decision making, while the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DPC) is involved with memory and emotion regulation. The Independent Variable is BLA, or Baseline Lucidity Assessment of each participant. That is, how lucid each participant is. The dependent variable is their performance on the Iowa Gambling Task and the Wisconsin Card Sort Task. T-tests and ANOVA tests will compare participants' BLA to their performance, raw scores, and improvement on both the IGT and WCST. BLA will be determined with various questionnaires. The significance of this study is that if people can be taught to dream lucidly, perhaps they can be trained to make better decisions. This is a possibility for a future study. This study will be undertaken at the CT Mental Health Center, in New Haven, with the guidance of Dr. Peter Morgan.

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  15. Feeding Tube Occlusions: An In-Vitro Evaluation of Ciprofloxacin tablets
    For patients requiring ventilation, in a coma, or with cancer, nasogastric (NG) tubes are used to deliver fluids, nutrition supplementation, and medication. Due to the frequency of these morbidities in ERs and hospitals in general, NG tubes are commonly used to deliver urgently needed medication to unconscious patients or to patients who have trouble swallowing or chewing. However, small-bore feeding tube occlusions happen in 23-35% of patients with feeding tubes, which can cause discomfort to the patients and waste money and time of the medical community. The independent variables are tablet manufacturer, suspending vehicle, method of preparation, and inactive ingredients in each tablet. The medication used in this study is ciprofloxacin, which is used to treat or prevent certain bacterial infections, such as complicated urinary tract infections, and the treatment and prevention of anthrax. It is an area of interest because it is a problematic drug for administration in enterally fed patients. The experiment was performed in-vitro, or simulated in a lab through the usage of a peristaltic pump to simulate the digestive system, and a beaker of acid to simulate stomach acid. The suspension of ciprofloxacin was injected into the feeding tube and run through the tube for 5 minutes. In addition, suspension tests were run to measure how well the medication could be suspended in different suspending agents. It is hypothesized that compounded tablets with less problematic excipients mixed with more viscous suspending agents will cause less occlusions. The purpose of the current research is to identify factors that cause or increase the chances of occlusions in feeding tubes. Using this knowledge, the ultimate goal is to be able to develop protocol and guidelines for drug administration through feeding tubes, since as of right now there are none. Thus, since there is no official protocol for drug administration through NG tubes, the administration methods vary widely between both hospitals and pharmacies, making it impossible to have a control group.

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  16. Sikorsky STEM Challenge

    The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair, the official state aircraft, is currently being restored by Connecticut Corsair, a volunteer organization dedicated to educating high school students in math, science, engineering, and technology . The objective of this project is to use modern material forms to design and restore an economical and efficient part of the Connecticut Corsair, which will be announced on October 28th at Chester Airport for the kickoff of the project. To construct a three dimensional model, a software program called Solidworks will be implemented. First, existing engineering designs will be analyzed for missing requirements. After researching and writing a research paper on the Corsair, students will then begin to analyze existing engineering designs for missing requirements that will be needed to build the part efficiently. The design that the students will consequently produce will be assessed to make sure it meets the requirements. Finally, the students’ design will be published and presented to compete against other schools’ design. Judging is based on economical and mechanical efficiency. Students will use an online tool called iHub to track their progress and to communicate with their mentors from Sikorsky. In addition, students will hold video conferences with their mentors every six weeks to ensure that progress is made in the right direction.

    Students involved: Helen Zhao, Zhang Liu, TJ Meehan, Ming Zhao, Ben Staniewicz

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  17. Significance of Supernovae on Nearby White Dwarf Stars
    Supernovae are the galactic explosions that occur when a star has reached the end of its lifespan. Supernovae can be categorized into two broad entries; Type 1a and Type II SNe (supernovae). Type 1a SNe take place when the main-sequence cycle of a star ends. The star expands into a red giant which fuses helium and produces carbon and oxygen in its core. This core is all that is left when the red giant sheds off its outer layers. The temperature within the core is too insufficient to fuse the carbon and oxygen, and so the white dwarf is essentially a dead star. This corpse however, isn’t supported by heat (generated during fusion) and therefore is extremely dense. When the white dwarf accretes more matter from a source (usually by a companion star), it will reach a point where the star collapses in on itself, causing the temperature to exceed that required to fuse carbon, essentially igniting the entire star and causing it to go supernova. The shockwaves from the supernova send matter rocketing outward for up to 3,500 years traveling at 30,000 km/hour. The problem statement in this experiment is can supernovae prolong or quicken the ignition of nearby white dwarves? It is hypothesized that supernovae can act as facilitators to nearby near-supernova white dwarves. The independent variable in this setup is the occurrence of [comparatively] older supernovae in a region of space. The dependent variable is the amount of recent supernovae in the same space. The controls in this experiment will be regions of space where no supernovae have occurred. Constants will be the galactic neighborhood from which regions of space are chosen to examined, databases used to collect data, and software and equipment used to organize it. Several samples of space where old supernovae and where no (or minimal) supernovae have occurred will be examined using a survey/database. A point will be chosen in the center of each sample, which will be aprx. 3500 light years each. Age of any and each supernovae will be determined, as well as the appearance of white dwarves, and it will be seen whether there is conclusive evidence to show any correlation between old supernovae and the occurrence of new supernovae or the frequency of white dwarves within the sample of space chosen for examination. The experiment will be done hopefully with aid from Dr. Elinor Gates of Lick Observatory in California.

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  18. Investigating the Hygiene Hypothesis: A Case-Control Study of Food Allergies and Age of Food Allergen Exposure in High School Teenagers

    Background and Objective: Food allergy affects 6% of U.S. children and 4% of the overall U.S. population. Health officials have recommended food allergen avoidance to prevent food allergies, but according to the Hygiene Hypothesis, exposure to allergens and pathogens is necessary for an effective immune system. The purpose of this study was to challenge conventions and determine whether early exposure might be beneficial rather than detrimental. Participants: 258 teenagers between the ages of 14-18 from a regional high school in New England were studied. Of the 258 participants, 67 had allergies (cases) while 191 did not (controls). Methods: A Food Allergy & Diet History questionnaire was administered to the participants’ parents. 2x2 contingency tables were constructed based on case and control exposure before and after a particular age cutoff for each of 6 common food allergens. Odds of exposure for the cases and controls were calculated and compared in an odds ratio (OR). Significance was evaluated with a P-value in a Chi-square test. Results: The types of food allergies within the 67 cases consisted of nuts (39%), dairy (25%), shellfish (19%), wheat/gluten (9%), eggs (6%), seeds (3%), and other (24%). Exposure to eggs (OR, 0.15 [95% CI, 0.08-0.27]), dairy (OR, 0.32 [95% CI, 0.18-0.57]), and wheat/gluten (OR, 0.18 [95% CI, 0.10-0.33]) before the age of 12 months was most protective against food allergies. Exposure to seeds (OR, 0.19 [95% CI, 0.10-0.36]) and peanuts/tree nuts (OR, 0.19 [95% CI, 0.10-0.36]) before 24 months was most protective, and exposure to shellfish (OR, 0.15 [95% CI, 0.08-0.30]) before 36 months was most protective. Conclusions: Exposure to dairy, eggs, and wheat/gluten before 12 months, peanuts/tree nuts and seeds before 24 months, and shellfish before 36 months of age may be protective factors against food allergies. The results from this study, which demonstrate that early exposure is indeed beneficial, are crucial to rewriting and improving the recommendations of health officials for future prevention of food allergies in children and young adults.

    -Zizi Yu

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  19. Exploring the Levels of Environmental Chitin and Chitinases in House Dust and their Association with Asthma: A Pilot Study

    The purpose of this study is to find the effect environmental chitinases has on asthma in humans. The long term goal is to try to find out whether asthma is caused by environmental factors or if it is instead a genotypical disease. To attempt this, a pilot study must be done to find out if chitinases can, in fact, be measured, and how to do so in a quantitative manner. It was hypothesized that a photosensitive chitinase assay would produce the most consistent results of chitinase activity as it controls many outside variables and uses an easily calculable reactive enzyme. This portion of the study is based off of finding methods to accurately measure chitinase activity. Multiple samples of dust, all taken from the same location to maintain similar chitinase activities, were obtained for testing different procedures. The test that held the most constant results would prove to be the most reliable. The independent variable was the procedure used to test for chitinase activity, the dependent variable was the result given by the test, and the control was a test that added no enzyme or variables, so as to test the photoreactivity of pure dust samples.

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  20. Samantha Austin 2012 Proposal
    Mentor: Mrs. Neelam Gupta
    Location: Hamden Sleep Disorders Center 2543 Dixwell Ave. Hamden CT.
    Title: Efficacy of the PAP NAP, a psycho-physiological desensitization method, for improving CPAP utilization
    People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep. OSA is caused by a blockage of the upper airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses/ closes during sleep. The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy unit (CPAP) utilizes pressure to keep the upper airway open. Patients may find it difficult to acclimate to CPAP as they may not like the fit (feel of a mask on their face), the feelings of breathing out against pressure, the look of the machine or the sound it makes. The cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) ,a component of the psycho-physiological desensitization method known as a PAP NAP, is when the patent is educated about the CPAP machine and the technician as well as psychologist talks to the patient about their fears/ questions pertaining to the CPAP. the patient is then given relaxation and desensitization techniques to improve comfort with CPAP. After the PAP NAP, the patient is expected to return to the facility in one month, three months, six months, and then yearly to follow-up. If the patient no longer uses the CPAP they will typically not show up to their appointments. The PAP NAP is optional for the patients needing the CPAP so they are not obligated to undergo CBT. Beginning in the summer of 2009, the Sleep Disorders Center has used PAP NAP with over 250 sleep disordered patients. The research objective is to determine if the PAP NAP is an effective method for increasing CPAP utilization in patients with sleep disordered breathing. The independent variable is the PAP NAP. The dependent variable is CPAP utilization. The experimental group is a sample of patients that underwent a PAP NAP. The control group is a group of patents that did not undergo PAP NAP. It is hypothesized that PAP NAP will increase CPAP utilization. The procedure is to review the medical charts of the patient samples to see their attendance of the follow up appointments. Then the researcher will know if they are continuing to use the CPAP machine. Results will be analyzed using linear regression and or a T-test.

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  21. Elliad Dagan

    The Effect of Smoking on the Risk of NIHL (Noise Induced Hearing Loss)

    In the study by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association it was found that 85 dB of noise may cause gradual but permanent damage to hearing. The question that will be researched in this study is whether or not smoking affects the risk of acquiring NIHL in a noisy environment. It is hypothesized that if a person does smoke, there will be a greater risk of permanent hearing loss. The independent variable would be whether or not the participants smoke (adjustments will be taken for age, time working, noise levels, and outside hobbies.) The dependent variable would be the risk of hearing loss as determined by the QuietDose, a novel device that can measure the actual amount of noise that reaches the ear. The control group would be people who do not smoke, still in a noisy environment. The materials needed to accomplish this would be the data from human participants in noisy work environments, factories in upstate NY and Branford, the QuietDose system, and IBM SSPS (statistical analysis software.) The data would be analyzed, first of just the smoking versus the hearing loss, then collectively adjusting for other variables stated above. Next statistical analysis will be implemented to analyze exactly how much the smoking actually effected the risk of NIHL. Research will be done at Dr. Rabinowitz’s office at Yale, at home, and at school. This project will hopefully clarify some of the mysteries around hearing loss. It would also be an addition to the every increasing list of detrimental side effects of smoking.

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  22. Curcumin, Isolation and Biological Activity
    Turmeric is a spice used in many Asian cultures to color and add flavor to foods. Most importantly, turmeric also has found uses in many Indian ayurvedic medicines since, it contains about 5% of an active ingredient called curcumin. Curcumin is responsible for most of the biological activity in turmeric. Curcumin has been used in many experiments to see whether or not helps against many cancers and other diseases such as inflammation etc. It has also been shown to have anti-tumor activity in early studies and it a known antioxidant and curcumin may offer many other health benefits. Curcumin is obtained by solvent extraction of turmeric. This study is assigned to use turmeric and curcumin as example of this process which involves extraction and separation using chromatographic techniques. Paper and thin layer chromatography are qualitative techniques to find out components of the extract and to identify the most effective mobile phase (solvent system) for the actual use of chromatographic technique. This research will help define the most effective mobile phase for isolation of curcumin from turmeric extracts. The different mobile phases that will be used are acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and methyl alcohol etc. The variables that will be tested in the experiment are the IV, the mobile phase that is used in the chromatography setup, and the DV, the accuracy of the separation. The control is using just water as the mobile phase. It is hypothesized that one of the solvent or mixture of solvents as mobile phase will be the most effective in separating the mixture based on polarity and solubility. The data will be analyzed qualitatively and pictures will be taken to compare the different mobile phases. The project will provide general understanding of the concepts used in pharmaceutical industry to indentify new medicines.

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  23. The purpose of this research is to explore the link between social fear and racial stereotyping. A study in 2010 from Current Biology studied people with Williams Syndrome (WS). WS people have abnormal activity in the part of the brain related to social fear (amygdala). Therefore, they are overly friendly. The study showed that people with Williams Syndrome are not racially stereotypical. However, research shows that they have gender stereotypes. This suggests racial stereotypes and social fear may be directly related since people with WS have no social fear or racial stereotypes. The independent variable of this study will be the amount of social fear children have. The dependent variable will be the degree of the children’s racial stereotypes. As this is a correlation study, there is no control. The hypothesis is children who are more socially afraid will have a greater degree of racial stereotypes, while children who have less social phobia will have fewer racial stereotypes. To conduct the experiment, 30-40 children aged 13-18 will be measured for social phobia using the Liebowitz Anxiety Scale (LSAS-SR) and their ethnicity documented. Then, the children will be told a few simple stories with characters that are obviously good or obviously bad. Pictures of different people who look exactly the same, with skin/hair/ethnic features being their only differences will be shown to the participants. Children will be asked to select the characters (with the only difference of choices being their race) out of these pictures. Statistical tests will be used (possibly linear regression), and if results are random, there is little racial stereotype. If there is a pattern, then the child has a higher degree of racial stereotype. The results of the story telling assessment will be compared with the children’s social phobia as measured through the LSAS-SR. Correlations will be drawn and conclusions will be made.

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  24. Zelun Wang
    Proposal 2011-2012

    Exploring the relationship between soil chemistry and water quality at the upper Cove River Watershed

    The Cove River watershed drains an area of about 13km2. A previous study in this area examined whether the presence of a golf course located north of the Cove River watershed affects dissolved nitrate concentrations (NO3¬¬-) in the tributaries of the watershed. While it was found that dissolved nitrate levels were on average 0.2mg/L higher in the tributary from the golf course than in the control tributary, this difference is minimal and it is unclear whether the difference is caused by the golf course fertilization or by difference in the soil composition adjacent to the two tributaries. How does soil composition of the upper Cove River watershed affect the water quality? Water data (temperature, dissolved oxygen, dissolved nitrate, pH and electrical conductivity) will be collected at 2 week intervals throughout summer-fall of 2011. Soil characterizations will be conducted at several locations along the upper Cove River watershed. Supernatants extracted from soil samples will be tested for pH, dissolved nitrate concentration, nitrogen availability, phosphorus availability, and potassium availability. All data will be collected using Vernier electronic probeware and field kits. Other environmental factors such as plant growth and weather will be taken into consideration. It is hypothesized that soil with pH close to neutral will contain the highest amounts of N, P, and K due to the chemical properties of these nutrients in soil. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that soil nitrate concentration will be directly related to water nitrate concentration. The relationship between precipitation and electrical conductivity in the tributaries will also be explored. This project is mentored by Dr. Scott Graves of SCSU

    Project Completed

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  25. The Effect of Different Sized Fonts of Times New Roman on Students with Dyslexia

    Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities known today. One in five students are diagnosed with Dyslexia. Students who are diagnosed with dyslexia have a difficult time with reading and recognizing words. In this study, texts with different size fonts of Time News Roman will be used to challenge the ability to read for students diagnosed with dyslexia. The purpose of this study is to find a possible benefit in helping students diagnosed with dyslexia to read better. It is hypothesized that the larger the font size of Times New Roman, then the decrease of mistakes the participant will make while reading. The independent variable of this study is the different size fonts of Times New Roman. The dependent variable is the length of time they took to read the text and the amount of mistakes the participant makes. First, participants ages 10-13 will be asked to read a short text in size 12 font in Times New Roman. While reading, participant will be timed. In addition, the listener will circle any mistakes made by the reader including any pronunciation mistakes or words that they have the inability to recognize. The participant will be asked to repeat these steps with a short text in size 14 and size 16 fonts in Times New Roman. The text in size 12 fonts in Times New Roman will serve as the control of this study.

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  26. The Effectiveness of Various Flowering Plant Species on the Phytoextraction of Metals
    Soil contamination is a troublesome problem throughout the U.S. Fertilizers and pesticides containing levels of lead, cadmium and other harmful metals are constantly being added to the environment and ending up in the soil. Over the years these traces of metals add up causing potentially dangerous situations. Currently, the most environmentally friendly method of soil remediation is phytoextraction, the use of plants to extract contaminants from soil. Each plant species is unique in its effectiveness in removing metals and so it is important to test as many plants as possible. This study will be a comparative study testing several flowering plants, which include: Zinnia and Marigolds, for their effectiveness. The research question is as follows: How effective is the phytoextraction of Pb, Ar, Ni, and Zn with the use of various species of flowering plants? It's hypothesized that if several types of flowering plants are used for phytoextraction, then the Zinnia will be most effective because it is the largest of the flowers and thus will store the most metal. In order to test these, plants seeds must first be planted. Several seeds of each type of plant will be planted in small trays and multiple trays will be made for each type of plant. After three weeks fertilizer with levels of metal will be added to the soil containing the plants. As a control, each type of plant species will be allowed to grow without the addition of the fertilizer. After four weeks the flower plants will be trimmed down to the soil surface then dried and five grams of the dried plant will be tested in a spectrometer for levels of various Pb, Ar, Ni, and Zn. The amount of each of these metals that is found in the plants is the dependent variable. If the flowering plants are found to be effective the environment can be cleaned and made beautiful simultaneously. This study will be conducted at SCSU under the guidance of Dr. Fleming.

    -David Powers

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  27. Do Optimal Outcome Individuals Have Less of a Prevalence of Family History of Major Mood, Anxiety, ASDs, ADHD, Learning or Psychotic Disorders than Individuals who Have Retained Their Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses?

    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) describe a spectrum of disorders characterized by social dysfunction, repetitive behaviors, specialized interests, and communication deficits. However, some children have been able to lose their diagnoses of ASDs; those who have been previously diagnosed with an ASD whose social and intellectual abilities newly fall into the normal range (where they can be considered typically developing) are considered to have achieved optimal outcome (OO). Studies have also shown a correlation between children with ASD and relatives with major mood and anxiety disorders. The data suggests that children with ASD who have a family history of mood and anxiety disorders have greater autism symptom severity (Wallace et al. 2008). Studies have also shown an association between children with ASD and relatives with schizophrenia (Ghaziuddi, 2005). Based on this data, is there a difference in the prevalence of family history of major mood, anxiety, ASDs, ADHD, learning or psychotic disorders among individuals with a history of ASD who achieved OO, individuals who have retained their ASD diagnoses and typically developing peers? It is hypothesized that since family history of major mood, anxiety, ASDs, ADHD, learning psychotic disorders is associated with greater autism symptom severity, then those with ASD with a family history of major mood, anxiety, or psychotic disorders are less likely to be optimal outcome than those without. The IV in this experiment is a family history of mood, anxiety, or psychotic disorders and the DV is whether the child is an optimal outcome child or not. To test this, the family medical histories of around 30 individuals who have achieved OO, 30 individuals with ASD and 30 typically developing peers will be looked at and reviewed. The diagnoses of ASD were made using the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI), and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and clinical judgment. Chi square tests and Fischer’s Exact Test will be used to analyze the data and assess for significant group differences see if there is a correlation between OO and a family history of the aforementioned disorders.

    This study will be conducted at UConn under Eva Troyb.

    Andrew Chen

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