Bringing heart to the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair


Sofia Pye '21

The annual Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair occurred virtually March 9 to 14.

Fourteen Sacred Heart Greenwich students attended the annual Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair virtually March 9 to 14.  This year, the students who represented Sacred Heart received seven awards and over $1,000 in cash prizes in the state’s largest science fair.  Approximately 200 judges virtually met with 120 high school and middle school students in Connecticut to review each project, according to  

Projects by junior Piper Gilbert and seniors Caroline Badagliacca, Cameron Calcano, Gabby DiBiase, Bella Rogers, Zoe Kassapidis, Avery McCloskey, Erin O’Connor, Taylor O’Meara, Renata Trevino, Kellie Ulmer, Arielle Uygur, Julia Welsh, Piper Van Wagenen, and competed against 600 other projects in Connecticut.

Under the supervision of Ms. Mary Musolino, Upper School Science Teacher, the students virtually displayed 16 projects at the 2020 Science and Engineering Fair.  The state fair was open to students in seventh through twelfth grade.  The objective of the fair is to attract young students interested in pursuing their passions in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field, according to  

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students presented their projects virtually.  Courtesy of

“The Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair (CSEF) is a very large fair with over 600 entries from 131 schools throughout Connecticut,” Ms. Musolino said.  “This year was the first year that the Fair was virtual due to current conditions.  There are 2 categories of awards at the Fair, finalist awards and special awards. Finalists have the potential to be chosen to present at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), so it was exciting to have four finalist projects, as well as seven projects overall receiving recognition.”

During the virtual award ceremony, the judges honored 16 completed research projects from Sacred Heart students.  Cameron, Bella, Gabby, Avery, Kellie, Zoe, Erin, Renata, and Julia all received Finalist Awards for their projects. 

Cameron and Bella chose to research water qualities in the Mianus River in their project entitled “The Effect of Construction on the Water Quality in the Mianus River.”  They were inspired to pursue their project about climate change and the effects of pollution in the Mianus River on marine life. 

We landed on this project because I was originally working on a project about climate change and the effects on marine life, but was more generally interested in something with water and the current changes to ecosystems and quality, and Bella rows for Sacred Heart so she would see all of the pollution floating on the water and wanted to look into it, so we joined forces and came up with our project,” Cameron said.

Caroline received the American Psychological Association Special Award and a $25 gift card from the Science and Engineering Fair.  Her project, titled “Music and Memory: The Ideal Dosage of Music for Improved Cognition and Quality of Life in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia,” focuses on determining the effect of musical enrichment on cognition in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

Piper received the Geology/Historic Project of Merit Award for her project “The Effect of Simulated Martian Soil on the Growth Rates of Plants.”  Her project is directed towards determining the best way to provide a nutrient supplement to the combined soil. 

“The main purpose of my project is to aid Martian colonization by way of providing sustenance for human life, so I hope that people will realize the rapid rate at which space exploration is evolving and improving,” Piper said.  “Things we had thought were only of science fiction are now a part of our world.”

Zoe concentrated her research on an oil-absorbing and water-repelling substance that would be used for an effective oil-spill cleanup for her project “Testing Natural and Synthetic Substances for Effective Oil Spill Cleanup.”  Due to the harm of oil spills on seabirds, Zoe hopes that her research will bring light to the dangers of oil spills on marine life.

Video managers monitor the virtual science proposals at Quinnipiac University.  Courtesy of

“I found that placing sorbitol (a natural sugar) inside of a nylon stocking was the most effective sorbent (absorbing substance),” Zoe said.  “Regarding the results, I will now manufacture the sorbitol in nylon into a boat sleeve that lines the underside of ships. Sorbitol forms clumps when absorbing oil which will be caught by the nylon sleeve that also absorbs oil.  Not only will the sleeve collect excess oil, but it was determined to also repel water for more oil absorption availability.”

Zoe received three awards for her finished research project.  She placed third for the Petit Family Foundation Women in Science and Engineering Awards, winning $150, and second for the Future Sustainability Awards, winning $300.  Additionally, she received the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and a $25 gift card from the Science Fair, with the possibility of advancing to further competition.

Erin, Renata, and Julia directed their project towards searching for the presence of microplastics in bottled water.  They virtually exhibited their research project at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair titled, “Using Nile Red Dye to Test for the Presence of Microplastics in Bottled Water,” which won third place for the PepsiCo/Pfizer Life Sciences Award.

Gabby, Avery, and Kellie used microbiome analysis to figure out its efficiency on a ceramic water filter.  Their project, “Using Microbiome Analysis to Determine the Effectiveness of a Unique Ceramic Water Filter,” was a PepsiCo/Pfizer Life Sciences Awards finalist and a CSF Medallion.  They also received the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and a $25 card from CSEF, with the possibility of advancing to further competition.

Piper, Taylor, and Arielle concentrated their research testing strength and biodegradability in plant-based bioplastics in their project, “Creating and Testing Novel Plant-Based Bioplastics for Strength and Biodegradability.”  Their project won the John S. Kendall Award for Excellence In Mechanical Engineering with a $500 cash prize.

Ms. Musolino enjoys mentoring the students’ collaborative projects and helping them prepare for the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair.

“The students have worked hard all year, and I was pleased that they revisited their work from the CT STEM Fair,” Ms. Musolino said.  “They made additional edits and conducted further analysis of their work for the CT Science and Engineering Fair (CSEF). The students learned that every time you look at a project, you can always find ways to improve, edit, and clarify.”

Featured Image by Sofia Pye’21