News Briefs

AP Chemistry Field Trip

On Oct. 28, the AP Chemistry class conducted a lab involving photovoltaic cells at Stony Brook University.  By combining blackberry juice with titanium oxide, graphite, and a few drops of iodide, the class was able to capture the photons of the sun and produce enough energy to power miniature motors.  By the end of the trip, students learned about the molecular processes behind dye-sensitized solar cells, how to assemble a solar cell, and the importance of sustainable energy.

Prior to the lab, students learned about the importance of sustainable energy and its many uses in today’s warming Earth.  Led by assistant professor Katherine Aubrecht of Stony Brook University, the class discussed current renewable energy technology and the possibilities for the future.  Dr. Aubrecht covered the implications of a solely non-renewable energy world compared to the environmental benefits of a world of sustainable energy.

“I think it’s important to have feasible means of capturing bio-friendly energy in order to solidify possibilities for the future in the event that it becomes too expensive or too unreliable to harvest energy the way we are used to” said junior Grace Robinson.

During the laboratory procedure, students soaked titanium-lined glass slides with blackberry juice, coating the slides with purple-colored sensitizing agents.  They then layered a secondary glass slide with graphite, creating an overlay of catalysts for the regeneration of 3 I¯ to I3.  Lastly, the students clipped the two slides together, added a few drops of iodide solution, and tested their newly crafted solar cells using overhead projectors and voltmeters.  The individual solar cells were then linked together in groups of four cells to power one motor.  Generally, the class was successful in constructing these mini solar panels and producing energy.

“In spite of my general incompetence, my cell, against all odds, actually worked,” said senior Rudy Malcom.

The AP Chemistry class was able to build their own solar cells and learn about the implications of renewable energy.  The lab taught basic chemistry processes in a more hands-on and creative way.  The students also had the privilege to work with real researchers and professors from Stony Brook University.

“The Stony Brook lab was interesting,” said junior Meagan Tsou.  “I felt that the lab itself was fun, engaging, and a good academic experience. However, there were many holes in the lab.  In other words, it wasn’t a very reliable experiment in terms of getting it completely right, so that made learning about solar cells harder.  The trip, however, was still interesting in regard to learning about green energy and alternative energy.  Seeing green energy on a small scale right in front of us made the trip’s learning experience worth the bus ride.”

~Jonathan Lin


STEM Presentation

On Oct. 20, students from Science, Math, and Social Science Research, along with freshmen from the Intro to STEM classes, attended a presentation on biostatistics in the auditorium.  Dr. Martin L. Lesser spoke to the students about the applications of statistics in the medical field.  Lesser is the Assistant Vice President of Biostatistics at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.  In the biostatistics branch of the Feinstein Institute, Lesser and his partners use statistics to solve various problems and answer questions.

“I learned a lot about statistical analysis and I thought the examples he presented were very interesting,” said junior Sarah Gottesman.  “I liked how he showed us specific data he had used in his analysis.”

In his field of work, Lesser also applies statistics to help design experiments.  Part of his job is to determine the most effective ways to collect data.  He explained that there are many conditions that can alter the outcome of a study, and it is important to create experimental models that reduce sources of error.

Lesser will be returning later this year to speak with Schreiber’s research students on how they can apply biostatistics to their own research projects.  He will also instruct students on statistical analysis and help them find the best statistical test for their data set.  This unique opportunity will enable students to have the most accurate results possible.

“It was very interesting to learn about all of the applications of biostatistics,” said junior Molly McLoughlin.  “I am excited to go over my own research with Dr. Lesser because he will definitely increase the accuracy and improve the project.”

Lesser also emphasized how pursuing a career in statistics can be extremely rewarding and enjoyable.  He encouraged students to try out more in-depth statistics and to explore other unique STEM fields.

~Saige Gitlin