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Bellmore-Merrick BOE Honors Intel Semifinalists

(Credit: Bellmore-Merrick CHSD)
(Credit: Bellmore-Merrick CHSD)
Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by representatives of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District.

Three Bellmore-Merrick Central High School students were honored at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting for being named Intel semifinalists.

The Bellmore-Merrick CHSD has had one or more Intel semifinalists for the past 10 years, as well as several finalists. This year, there were three semifinalists; Emma McNamara from Calhoun High School, Joshua Pollock from Kennedy High School and Corey Wald from Mepham High School.

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McNamara is a senior at Calhoun High School with dreams of becoming a paleoanthropologist. Two years ago, McNamara found a home in an anthropology lab at New York University. The title of Emma’s project is “Female Dominance Hierarchies as a Predictor of Relative Canine Size Dimorphism in the Macaca Genus.” Under the guidance of her mentor, McNamara became fascinated with linking morphological traits and social behaviors in a type of geographically and socially diverse monkey commonly referred to as macaques. Ultimately, McNamara became determined to relate the female relationships in macaques to the canine dimorphism, which is an expressed difference in canine tooth size between male and female members of the same species.  

Due to her diligent efforts over the course of two summers, McNamara was able to find that the degree of female intolerance was inversely related to the level of canine dimorphism among species of macaques. By making this connection, McNamara clarified the selective factors for a key evolutionary trait.

When Emma is not analyzing monkey teeth, she enjoys playing her clarinet in Calhoun’s Wind Ensemble, serving as Secretary General of the Model United Nations delegation and contributing to the Science Club. In the future, Emma plans on majoring in anthropology and earning a doctorate in the field.

Joshua Pollock is a senior at Kennedy High School and is the 30th Intel semifinalist from Kennedy since their Advance Science Research program began in 2004. The title of Pollock’s project is “Emotional Face Recognition”.

The Emotional Stroop task consists of faces displaying an emotion with an emotional word superimposed over the face that may or may not match the face. Two participants with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) completed an Emotional Stroop task. Their data was compared to those of typically developing controls. Statistical analyses revealed an Emotional Stroop effect for controls, suggesting that the word written on the picture of the face is processed before the facial image is. One of the two ASD participants showed an Emotional Stroop effect for fearful faces, while the other did not, highlighting the deficit in processing fearful faces in children with Autism.

Pollock is a member of three honor societies and has received numerous science and math awards. He participates in several clubs including One World, Model Congress, and the Science Club and has worked for Tutors for a Cure and Moolala Frozen Yogurt. Pollock will be majoring in Biology at Cornell University. He will be going on to medical school to become a surgeon.

Corey Wald is a senior at Mepham High School with an exceptionally scientific mind. He is an AP Scholar with Honor, a member of six honor societies, as well as a member of the Gilder-Lehrman and Mepham’s E.L.I.T.E (Enriching Learners in Tomorrow's Education) programs.

The title of Wald’s project is “The Sky's the Limit - An Investigation of Cloud Cover on Major League Baseball Performance”. His research investigated the effect of cloud cover on player performance in Major League Baseball. Wald obtained climate data and player performance statistics for the MLB East over the past five seasons. He then statistically analyzed the data to see if there was a relationship among several batter and pitcher variables (ERA, RBI's, On base percentage etc.) and percent cloud cover during the game. The results indicated that increased cloud cover tends to favor the batter. As the cloud cover increased by one percent, the number of strikeouts drops by .008. Additionally, as cloud cover increased, the trend moves towards a decrease in mean strikeouts, indicating that low percent cloud cover appears to favor the pitcher.

Wald wishes to pursue biomedical engineering in college.

The Intel Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition which brings together the best and brightest young scientific minds in the United States.

300 semifinalists were selected from more than 1,839 entrants that hail from 190 high schools in more than 30 states and one American high school overseas. From that select pool, 40 finalists are then invited to Washington, D. C. in March to undergo final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists and compete for the top award of $100,000.

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