Twelve students receive recognition at Connecticut STEM Fair


Ms. Mary Musolino

Caroline Badagliacca ’20 explains her research project to Connecticut STEM Fair attendees.

Fifty Sacred Heart Greenwich students attended the annual Connecticut Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fair February 8.  These students, all of whom are in the Upper School Science Research program, traveled to the Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut to present their research projects and compete for various awards and honors.  This year, the judges recognized 12 Sacred Heart students for their research proposals and projects.  

Under the guidance of the Upper School Science Research program and Ms. Mary Musolino, Upper School Science Teacher, these students displayed a total of 35 projects at the 2020 Connecticut STEM Fair.  Since the Connecticut STEM Foundation created this event in 2001, it has grown to host students from 19 high schools across the state with 254 distinct research projects this year. 

Ms. Musolino enjoys mentoring the students in the Science Research program and helping them prepare for the annual Connecticut STEM Fair.

“I love seeing the student projects come together, from an idea and research question to a completed project,” Ms. Musolino said.  “This year’s projects were particularly strong, and the students worked hard to prepare for the fair.”

Sophomore Abby Barnett stands beside the poster for her and sophomore Annie O’Connor’s award-winning research project.  Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

During the Awards Ceremony, the judges honored nine research proposals and projects from 12 Sacred Heart students.  In addition, three students, sophomores Abby Barnett and Annie O’Connor and senior Malika Amoruso, received invitations to the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair at Quinnipiac University, March 9 through 14. 

Abby and Annie chose to research phosphates and nitrates in the Long Island Sound through their project, “Testing an Activated Carbon Cloth to Reduce the Prevalence of Phosphates and Nitrates in the Long Island Sound.” 

They won first place for their completed research project, and the judges invited them to the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair.  

“Prior to the fair, Abby and I, along with Ms. Musolino, spent almost every lunch period running tests in the research lab,” Annie said.  “The Science Research program has enabled us to connect with various accomplished and admirable mentors, who have helped to further our research with their expertise.”

They were inspired to pursue their project after seeing the impact of pollution on their local beaches.

“During the summer, we went to our local beaches and noticed they were often closed because of dangerous algae blooms,” Annie said.  “We decided to investigate the cause for this, and ended up uncovering the more pressing and deeper cause of this, which is storm drain runoff.”

Freshman Claudia El-Masry received third place for her proposal in the Health and Medical category.  Her research, “Testing E-liquid Products used for Vaping Pods for Microbial Endotoxin Contamination,” focused on the health risks that products used in vaping pods pose. 

“Uncovering Abnormalities in Asteroids Using Asteroid Occultation,” freshman Katie May’s research project, earned fourth place in the Physical Science category.  She plans to use Sacred Heart’s Mary Aloysia Hardey RSCJ Observatory to conduct research throughout her time in high school.  

Sophomore Isabelle Berkery received third place for her research proposal in the Behavioral category.  Titled “Using Brain Scans To Determine if the Amount of Training That a Service Dog Receives Leads to Improvements in The Amygdala and Caudate,” her project proposal stemmed from her passion for animals.  

Searching for an environmentally-friendly alternative to ice melt, sophomores Franny O’Brien and Lucy Catalano exhibited their team research proposal at the Connecticut STEM Fair.  Their project, “Evaluation of Alternative Deicing Substances Using Sodium Chloride and Calcium Chloride as Baseline Deicers to Establish an Environmentally-Friendly Approach to Ice Melting,” won first place in their category.

“Comparing the Quantity and Types of Microplastics in Industrial, Populated, and Isolated Locations along the Hudson River, Long Island Sound, and Mianus River,” sophomores Justine Hounsell and Chelsea Hyland’s team research proposal, received fourth place.

Senior Zoe Kassapidis won the Naval Science Award for her research project, “Testing Natural and Synthetic Substances for Effective Oil Spill Cleanup.”  The Office of Naval Research, Science, & Technology offers Naval Science Awards to students who present outstanding research at specific science fairs and demonstrate an interest in science and engineering, according to  

After her recognition as a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, senior Caroline Badagliacca received second place at the Connecticut STEM Fair for her completed research project.  Her project, titled “Music and Memory: The Ideal Dosage of Music to Reduce Agitated Behaviors and Improve the Quality of Life of Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia,” was in the Behavioral category of the fair.

At the Awards Ceremony, senior Malika Amoruso (second from left) receives an invitation to the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair. Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

For her completed research project “Remediating Pharmaceutical Pollution: The Effect of Boron Doping on the Ability of Graphene Oxide Membranes to Adsorb Aqueous Acetaminophen” in the Environmental category, Malika won second place.  The judges also awarded her an invitation to both the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair and the GENIUS Olympiad competition, an international high school competition for environmentally-focused research projects.

“The Science Research program has allowed me to deepen my interests in chemistry and environmental science because it has allowed me to conduct my own studies in these areas which I never thought I would be able to do until college,” Malika said.  “[Through my research,] I wanted to come up with a less expensive way to filter dangerous pollutant ions from water than reverse osmosis which many people do not have access to.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino