LIVINGSTON, NJ - A power outage on a visit to India inspired Livingston High School (LHS) sophomore Shaima Parveen to shine within the ranks of high school science researchers in the national DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition. Parveen, a student in the LHS Science Research Program, took third place in North America's premier science essay competition that encourages students to delve deep into their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and express themselves with creativity and purpose. She is the first student at Livingston High School to place in the DuPont Challenge and will travel to Orlando in May for an awards ceremony, special tours of The Kennedy Space Center, a trip to The Disney World Resort, and a savings bond.
The DuPont Challenge competition encourages students to think critically about potential science and engineering-based solutions to important global challenges: feeding the world, building a secure energy future, and protecting people and the environment.
Parveen’s essay, “Lamp Lights the Way for the Future of Energy,” was recognized from among 10,000 submissions. Her essay begins with her personal experience and emotions during a power outage one evening in India, during a visit with her cousin, and her cousin’s use of a bright, solar-charged SELCO lamp to “dispel the darkness.”
Her teacher, Eric Weis, explained that the Science Research Program at LHS is quite extraordinary. Students are selected for this three-year elective, spending their first year learning to read and present peer reviewed articles from journals specific to the field of interest they are pursuing. Some students are fortunate enough to find a college or university professor willing to mentor them in a laboratory their first summer, between sophomore and junior years.
The intermediate research students continue their readings, focus on statistical methods of data analysis, learn to write grant proposals, and prepare themselves for the summer preceding their senior year. During that summer, they either perform original research, or join with a team in their mentor’s lab, contributing to a research project and coming back to LHS in the fall with data to analyze and present. The final year of Science Research involves ongoing readings, writing the Senior Paper, and entering into regional and national science fair competitions.
For the DuPont Challenge, Parveen reviewed the history of solar energy, collection from the 1800’s to the present, touching along the way on updraft towers and solar ponds “and how they will improve the world, bringing us an environmentally friendly future,” she explained.
Many of the ideas used to compose the essay stemmed from Parveen’s Future City Design project on solar energy with the FemGineers, Heritage Middle School’s science, technology, engineering and math program for girls.
“As part of the Future City project, I researched many novel solar technologies like the solar pond and the solar updraft tower,” she said. “In this project, I studied the negative effects of nonrenewable energy sources and how renewable energy sources, especially solar energy, facilitate protecting our environment.”
The essay contrasted solar energy with that from fossil fuels, reviewing issues of pollution, renewability, maintenance, and affordability. She ended with an acknowledgment that her cousin Summayah’s SELCO lamp was just a modest step in the right direction.
The work of all the science research students can be seen at 7 p.m. on May 28 at the LHS’s annual Science Symposium. The third-year students will present the results of their research. The first and second year students will have a poster session, in which they will share their work to date.
Parveen’s interest in exploring science took root at an elementary school camp invention program. In middle school, she attended the NJIT summer program FEMME, The Women in Engineering and Technology initiative to augment science, math and technological knowledge, develop problem solving and critical thinking skills, and promote leadership abilities. As a high school student, she has participated in the Aeronautical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering programs for three successive summers.
In the science research program at LHS, she is researching the Herpes Zoster Virus and its side effect, Postherpetic neuralgia, in a three-year guided research program affiliated with the University of Albany.
Livingston has one of the best school systems in New Jersey; it raises up Governors, Playwrights, Actors, Artists, Doctors, Lawyers…or to put it plainly… Superstars! But before they became successful grownups, they did extraordinary things as kids.
Read on to learn about the exceptional things our Livingston children are doing these days.
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