by Johnny Liang & Youssef Fahmy
Each year, sophomore SERP students work in small groups on long-term research projects with the hopes of improving the quality of life of the citizens of their community. Last year’s projects covered a wide variety of topics. Projects included limiting stress in school, improving the quality of school water, providing caffeine alternatives to students, limiting the use of BPA products in school, and increasing the number of healthy snacks in our school’s vending machines. Students began their projects in the beginning of the school year and finished around April. All projects consisted of an experiment and an implementation. The results of the experiments are the driving force behind the implementations.
Many of the SERP students chose to work on improving the quality of life of our school’s students. They were easily able work with faculty and fellow students to conduct their experiments. One of last year’s projects aimed to improve the quality of our school water. Matthew Durney and Youssef Fahmy worked with Mr. Erlenwein and Dr. Davis to obtain the results of previous year’s water quality tests, and they also surveyed students about their water drinking habits in school. Based on the survey results, most of the students were not drinking enough water during school hours because they feared the school water was of low quality. However, the tests showed that our school’s water quality meet the city standards. Matthew and Youssef worked on eliminating the stigma that the school’s water was of low quality by publicizing recent water quality test results that are not found on the NYCDOE website.
Another project, conducted by Samantha and David, sought to improve food choices in our vending machines. They surveyed students about their healthy snack preferences and replaced some of the items in our vending machine with the healthier options. Additionally , because one cannot view the nutritional facts of items while they are in the vending machine, David and Samantha aimed to introduce barcode stickers on the front of vending machines that present nutritional facts of the items in the machine to the person who scans it.
One group was concerned with the negative effects IPads may have on students. IPad screens emit blue light which may hinder sleeping quality of students. The group surveyed students on their sleep quality and iPad use, and it was shown that the students with higher iPad use reported a lower sleep quality. To address this issue, the group applied for a grant so that they could supply students with blue light filters.
There were many other projects conducted that sought to improve the school community, and they can be found on the SERP journal on the Tech website. This years SERP sophomores are already brainstorming ideas for their projects.