Science Reports

  • Rising Tides Among Sayville Student Scientists

    Sayville Sixth-Grader Presents at Industry GIS Conference

    Written by Gianna Fraccalvieri – Grade 12

    The Long Island Geographic Information Systems User Group (LIGIS) held its annual fall conference on Wednesday, November 16th at Stony Brook University’s Wang Center.  Sayville High School’s Research in Science and Engineering teacher, Maria Brown, co-presented with Samantha Hmelovsky, a bright and talented sixth grader at Sayville Middle School. The title of their presentation was, “Using ARC GIS Online to Analyze Student-collected Environmental Data”. Samantha presented the findings of her outstanding  geospatial research on water quality related to biodiversity in the Carmans River, which she conducted as a fifth grader under the guidance of teacher Kathy Whitehurst.

    Samantha, along with twenty four other prodigious fifth graders, was trained to use Arc GIS Online during the 2015 STEM Symposium held at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School. This training was done in collaboration with the New York State Central Pine Barrens Commission’s program, “Day in the Life of a River”, directed by local Sayville resident, Melissa Parrott. The training also combined efforts with Brookhaven National Laboratory’s “Open Space Stewardship” program, directed by Melvyn Morris. Samantha shared her geospatial analysis of potential pollutants and land uses that may be adversely impacting water quality and therefore, biodiversity in different sections of the river. She also shared her personal experience using ArcGIS Online and concluded, “ ‘I wish I could use it every day!’ ”. Her presentation was well-received by industry academics, non-governmental organizations, and students as well as staff members of Stony Brook University. Both Samantha and fellow student Adam Burgardt received awards for their posters at the conference.

    Additionally, Samantha and Adam’s exceptionally advanced posters were accepted into ESRI’s International GIS User Group Conference, Map Gallery, held in San Diego, California in June of 2016. The pair placed first and second, respectively, for the elementary poster category. Both were recognized for their superior work by Sayville’s Board of Education in November of 2016. Samantha’s research, entitled, The effect of dissolved oxygen and nitrate levels on organisms in the Carmans River, landed her the 1st Place Award for the Elementary Division at the ESRI Conference, and deservedly so! Adam Burgardt of Lincoln Avenue Elementary School claimed the 2nd Place Award in the Elementary Division for his illustrious project, Water pH…Friend or Foe? It will be more than exciting to see what these young, bright and motivated students and their peers will achieve once they are at the high school level of RISE. Congratulations and keep up the great work!

    Other highlights for Sayville’s geospatial scholars include Caitlin Gormley, Jared Bergen, Jahan Rahman, Thomas Faughnan and Sierra Boyce, all from Sayville High School. These insanely bright students have represented RISE well through their exceptional projects that were also accepted into ESRI’s Map Gallery. Caitlin Gormley received the 1st Place Award in the High School Category which is an amazing accomplishment! She also received an honorable invitation to present her research at the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association Health Conference (URISA) held in Washington, DC from May 31st – June 3rd as a junior in RISE. She was the first high school student ever to be invited to present at this National Conference. Congratulations on this esteemed achievement, Caitlin!