Three juniors recognized as Siemens semifinalists: First time a Schreiber group project progressed in the Siemens competition

Emily Ma, News Editor

Juniors Rebecca Muratore, Caroline Katz, and Sarah Gottesman, students in the science research program, progressed as semi-finalists in the Siemens Competition for a team project.  Siemens extended project eligibility to juniors for a group project three years ago.  This is the first time a junior group project from Schreiber has received recognition in the competition.

“We all very proud of Caroline, Rebecca, and Sarah,” said junior research teacher Ms. Marla Ezratty.  “They worked so hard last year. The fact that they did their project as sophomores and reached semifinalist-level status is really impressive”

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology was established in 1999.  The Competition is dedicated to encouraging students to undertake research projects that will improve their understanding of scientific values.

“I was completely surprised when I found out that we were Siemens semi-finalists,” said Muratore. “It was definitely not something we were expecting to happen, so we were very excited to hear the good news.”

Schreiber’s research programs give students the opportunity to pursue research of their own either in school or in an outside laboratory.  Students can conduct research on a variety of topics, ranging from epidemiology to psychology. The research program allows students to develop research skills and gives an introduction to numerous fields.

Muratore, Katz, and Gottesman studied the behavioral effects of sodium withdrawal.  Although sodium is necessary for metabolic processes, humans commonly ingest more salt than they need, resulting in negative cardiovascular and neurological effects on the body.  In their experiment, planarians were exposed to a solution of sodium chloride and their movements were observed to see if they changed from their normal motions.  This study demonstrated that sodium could be classified as an additive substance.

“After seeing the excess amount of salt that people consume on a daily basis, we began to worry about the negative implications on our health,” said Katz.  “When we saw that this curiosity could develop into a viable project, we had to jump on the opportunity.”

The students were also in correspondence with Professor Rawls, a researcher at Temple University.   He uses planarians to investigate the pharmacology of addictive drugs and specializes in substance abuse research.  Professor Rawls was able to provide suggestions for their research plan and gave professional insight to help revise their paper.

Ms. Ezratty mentored their project and guided the students through the procedure.

“We were so happy when we got the news about the competition,” said Gottesman.  “Ms. Ezratty was so helpful throughout the whole process. She was so dedicated to helping us improve our project, and she is always willing to put in extra time to help us succeed.”