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Student Scientists Present at Lakeland Symposium

Dana Coniglio knew what she loved and wanted to learn more about it. Through the Lakeland Science Research Program, Coniglio along with dozens of other students had the opportunity to find a topic and research it vigorously.

Students presented their research at the Annual Science Research Symposium at Lakeland High School Tuesday night. The symposium was an opportunity for students at each level in the program to present the research they have done, and seniors Kaitlin Hamilton and Frank DiRenno each presented their conclusions after years worth of research.

DiRenno, who is also the salutatorian at Walter Panas High School presented his topic, “Fabrication of Nanoscale Mechanical Resonators Using a Bottom-up Production Technique.”

DiRenno said his topic and understanding of science and research has grown since he first entered the Science Research Program as a freshman.

“You find out what interests you most and are then able to work on it,” he said. DiRenno did most of his work in a laboratory at Columbia University.

Hamilton, the valedictorian at Walter Panas, did most of her research at home on the computer, as her project centered around computer-based research and data. She said that the idea for her project, “Temporal Comparative Analysis of H1N1 Influenza A Virus Protein Residues to Assess Selection Sites,” was a result of reading newspaper articles around the time of the H1N1 outbreak, and becoming curiously taken by the topic.

Hamilton’s father, Steve Hamilton, said the transformation that his daughter has made through the program over the past four years was amazing.

“Ever since she was little she was always interested in science,” he said. “This is just a great program that allows them to get into science on a professional level.”

Madeleine Ferren Borgaro, the science research program teacher at Walter Panas and Lakeland, aids the students in their programs, said it's most important for the students to pick a topic they will enjoy.

“They have to be doing something they love, or it just doesn’t work,” she said. Prior to the program’s beginning freshman year, the students must read articles over the summer to get them brainstorming on potential topic ideas. Students are then allowed to pick their topics with guidance from their teachers, and Borgaro said a most interesting point in the program is to see them evolve their topic from start to finish.

Consiglio, a freshman at Lakeland High School stumbled across her topic while working as a camp counselor, where she observed how the young children she watched memorized and recited lines in different ways. This got her thinking, and when a teacher presented the option of entering into the Science Research Program, she decided to explore what she observed even further. On Tuesday she stood proudly with her research about the effects that theater and drama-based language have on young children.

“I just figured, why don’t I do something I’m already curious about and have an interest in,” she said. “I’ve really learned a lot from it, especially since it’s a topic in something I enjoy doing.”

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