Three of our tenth grade Science Institute Research Methodology students won first place in this year’s Nassau Community College Honors Program’s 23rd annual Science Fair Competition for high school students, which took place virtually this year. Submissions were accepted via email and sent out to a team of four judges. Each project was judged under the following criteria: Adherence to the Scientific Method; Creativity and Originality; Clarity, Spelling/Grammar; Relevance to the Theme.

A special Zoom event announcing the winners was scheduled to take place on Friday, April 16, but because our students are Shabbos observers, the award ceremony was moved to Thursday, April 15. Sophomores Maytal Chelst, Eliana Samuels, and Rivka Sullivan researched sourdough bread starters and DNA, barcoded the different bacteria that make each region’s sourdough unique.

They explained: “Sourdough has been around for centuries and, during the peak of COVID-19, making homemade sourdough also hit a peak. With this sudden resurgence, many people wondered about the benefits and health effects of sourdough. The purpose of this experiment was to see if bacteria in each of the sourdough cultures from different locations contained different bacterial species and what health benefits those species yield. DNA was obtained from the bacteria in three different ways to yield the most effective results. The results from the gel electrophoresis were run through a program called ‘DNA Subway’ that cleaned up and analyzed the data.

“The results showed that all of the sourdough bacteria consisted of many different types of bacteria. The bacterial species sequenced from these sourdough cultures all seemed to have one thing in common: benefits for human health.”

Congratulations to Maytal, Eliana, and Rivka, as well as to Research Methodology instructor Professor Jason Williams, and to Director of the Science Institute, Mrs. Ruth Fried, who mentored these young scientists in their research.