Manhasset projects win at science fair

Bill San Antonio

Two groups of Manhasset High School students won awards last weekend at the International Science World Energy Engineering Environment Project Olympiad competition in Houston, Texas, school officials said.

Juniors Mike Kusnierk and Patrick Fahey won first place in the competition’s “environmental” division and juniors Bryan Herbert, Steven Tranchina and Aaron Cabazadeh won third place in the competition’s “energy” division, said science research advisor Peter Guastella.

The first place winners designed a biosensor to detect heavy metal pollution in water using the change in the brightness of fluorescent bacteria.   

“They designed the sensor and all of the equipment on their own,” Guastella said. “Tt was a extremely innovative project on their part. They built the biosensor based on electrical schematics from research they had done, and once they did that they were able to confirm that it worked.”

Herbert, Teanchina and Cabazadeh created a technique for converting chlorella, a type of algae, into biodiesel energy.

The students, Guastella said, had been researching the topic for two years, even gaining access to the National Synchatron Light Source laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory to aid their work. 

“They competed against Ph.D.s for use of that lab, and it made a world of difference in the research they had,” Guastella said.

Guastella said Manhasset was the only school from the North Shore that entered projects into the competition. He said two schools from Suffolk, Half Hollow Hills East and Sayville, entered projects as well.

Guastella said Manhasset has sent projects in three of the last four years to the competition.

“It’s very prestigious, there aren’t too many competitions like it,” he said. “It’s probably one of the top-five international competitions right now.”

In addition, both Manhasset projects won second place honors at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair May 18, Guastella said.

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Bill San Antonio

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