Bringing STEM from the Heart to the annual Connecticut STEM Fair

Fifteen Sacred Heart Greenwich students attended the annual Connecticut Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fair, February 9, at Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Connecticut.  With a total of 188 projects, 33 Sacred Heart students competed against 14 other schools, showcasing their science research projects to judges from the Connecticut area.  The judges awarded 11 of the Sacred Heart students for their research.

The Connecticut STEM Foundation, Incorporated, a non-profit organization, began in 2001 with a mission to promote high school students’ interest in STEM fields.  The organization sponsors the Connecticut STEM Fair each year and supports advanced teacher training to allow students to see the practical application of science through field trips and lectures, according to    

Participation in the Connecticut STEM Fair has grown over the last 15 years as it continues to promote critical thinking skills and to motivate students to pursue STEM careers, according to  The foundation’s mission is to engage Connecticut high school students from diverse backgrounds.  It seeks to provide an opportunity for students interested in STEM fields to interact with one another by sharing their research. 

There are four categories including “Health Research Proposal,” “Behavioral Research Proposal,” “Environmental Research Proposal,” and “Physical Science Research Proposal.”  In these categories, judges present awards for both completed projects and research proposals.

Freshmen Abigail Barnett, Alexandra Hannett, and Annie O’Connor were the first group of girls to receive the Team Research Proposal award at Sacred Heart, for determining the amounts of microplastics in the sand near sea turtle nests.  Annie spoke about the honor they received, and how she is motivated to pursue her work throughout the rest of high school. 

“Our group was so honored to receive the top prize in the Team Proposal Research category.  We had achieved the goal we had set since the beginning of the semester, and it was an honor to be able to represent the Sacred Heart science research program,” Annie said.  “As freshmen, we are inspired by our successes to continue to pursue science research further, and look forward to returning to the Connecticut STEM Fair next year and in the future.”  

Junior Caroline Badagliacca placed second for the “Behavioral Research Proposal” category.  Her project focused on determining the effect of musical enrichment on cognition in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  

Piper Gilbert ’21, first place winner of the Naval Science Award. Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

Juniors Eliza Stanley and Alice Adams placed third for the “Team Research Proposal” award, testing the most effective method delivery method of plant probiotics.  

Seniors, Emma Belmont, Caroline Conrod, and Claire Liddy took home the second place award for the “Team Research Proposal” category for testing alternative fertilizers to reduce hypoxia, the deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues in the Long Island Sound.

Sophomore Piper Gilbert, who received the Naval Science Award, spoke about what sparked her interest in learning more about food growth on Mars.  Piper hopes to determine if plant growth is possible on Mars, through testing a variety of different vegetables. 

Malika Amoruso ’20 is the first place winner of the Environmental Research Proposal.  Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

“The title of my project is the Effect of Simulated Martian Soil on the Growth Rates of Plants.  Essentially, for my experiment, I’m going to plant potatoes, tomatoes, and mizuna lettuce seeds in a simulant Martian soil, which was developed based on X-ray diffraction from the Curiosity Rover, to determine if we can grow plants on Mars,” Piper said.  “I chose this topic for my project because I’ve been passionate about astronomy since I was little.  Martian colonization is also becoming a more popular area of research and I’m enthusiastic about contributing.”

Junior Malika Amoruso was the first-place winner of the “Environmental Research Proposal” for her project on using enhanced graphene oxide to purify drinking water.  She shared her insight about her favorite experience at the STEM fair, speaking about interacting with sophisticated students. 

“I think my favorite part about the fair was just that moment when I realized I was surrounded by brilliant students, mentors, and judges alike, all of whom are passionate about science just like me,” Malika said. “I probably spent more time wandering around the fair looking at others projects than practicing my own presentation, to be honest, because I had never been in a room with so many brilliant young scientists before and I just wanted to learn as much as possible.”

Featured Image by Sofia Pye ’21