From 'Preserve Your Melon' to 'Natural CO2 Filters': Winning Projects at Brookhaven Lab's 2017 Elementary School Science Fair

UPTON, NY — Nearly 500 science projects from 108 Suffolk County schools were entered into the 2017 Elementary School Science Fair. The Fair, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and coordinated by the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs, was held at the Laboratory on May 6.  Brookhaven scientists, engineers, technical staff, and teachers from local elementary schools judged the projects.

In addition to the first-place winners (listed below), selected students received honorable mention for projects that ranged from “Sea, See, What Do You See?” to “Let’s Get Magnetized.” A list of students receiving honorable mention can be found on the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs website (PDF).

Bob Gordon of DOE’s site office at Brookhaven welcomed the young scientists and their families. From the stage, Gordon asked the students in the audience to stand up as he turned around to take a “group selfie.” 

“Now I have proof that I knew you before you made your scientific breakthrough or won your Nobel Prize,” said Gordon. “Remember that you are our future.”

Brookhaven Lab's 2017 Elementary School Science Fair

The first-place winners, by grade level, are:

  • Matthew Macartney, kindergarten, Dickinson Avenue Elementary, Northport/East Northport School District, “Chill Out”
  • Rebecca Bartha, first grade, Raynor Country Day School, Remsenberg, “Paw Preference in Cats”
  • Alexis Hollingsworth, second grade, Ridge Elementary School, Longwood School District, “Is Artificial Food Dye Harmful to the Growth of Living Things?”
  • Elana Kupersmith, Aidan Macartney, Sam Shea (group project), third grade, Dickinson Avenue Elementary School, Northport/East Northport School District, “Plastic from Cows”
  • Lily Rogers, fourth grade, Ocean Avenue School, Northport/East Northport School District, “Natural CO2 Filters”
  • Faith Hoerning, fifth grade, Ocean Avenue School, Northport/East Northport, “Preserve Your Melon”
  • Navya Gautam, sixth grade, Hauppauge Middle School, “Does Shape Matter?”

Navya Gautam, the sixth-grade winner from Hauppauge Middle School said she was curious why solar panels were always a rectangular shape. “I wanted to find out if different shapes might make the panels more effective, which would help the environment and in turn help our world,” said Navya. She hopes to someday work in the medical field helping people.

Fifth-grader Andrew Harris of Edna Spears Elementary School in Port Jefferson was excited to share his project findings on the best way to build a derby race car.

“I built a race car for the Pinewood Derby for the Boy Scouts and did a science project on how to make my car go faster. My brother and I kept moving the weights to different spots on the race car and tested it 24 times before I got the best results,” said Andrew, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up. In the meantime, he said he will continue as a Boy Scout and keep building race cars for the derby.

For more information on educational programs visit Brookhaven Lab’s educational programs website.

Media Contacts: Jane Koropsak,, (631) 344-4909, or Peter Genzer,, (631) 344-3174.

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