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posted: Fri, May 22nd, 2015
Neera Chattopadhyay and Aya Salim with part of their bionic eye research project

Students win awards in state technology competition

MOMS students in the Science Olympiad/Technology Student Association (TSA) club recently took home an impressive 11 awards at the TSA state finals. Held at the College of New Jersey, the competition featured contests for students who have pre-built their projects and also contests for students who can think on their feet when the pressure is on.

There were a number of interesting projects this year:

Aya Salim and Alexandra Szewc took first place for a research project in the Agriculture and Biotechnology Design category. The students investigated issues involving gene therapy and created a display and written report that summarized their findings. Their interpretations of the ethical uses of the treatment were particularly compelling. For example, they examined whether it would be ethical to do more than just cure diseases and use the procedure to create genetically enhanced human beings. While gene therapy is still experimental, these types of issues are bound to arise in the future when medicine advances and gene therapy becomes mainstream. 

Third place in the STEM Animation category was awarded to Varshitha Devagiri, Hannah Lake, and Alexandra Szewc. Their two-minute animation was designed to playfully explain meiosis (a type of cell division) in humans to sixth- and seventh-graders. Completed using iMovie and Photoshop, the animation focused on the basics. 

“This is learning about how we were made,” said Varshitha. “It’s what everyone should know.

The piece was completed using iMovie and Photoshop.

Bionic vision was a topic explored by Neera Chattopadhyay and Aya Salim in their second place winning project. Completed in the category of Medical Technology Issues, the students investigated the issues facing the technology now and in the future. Neera and Aya asked tough questions such as “When and if bionic vision becomes superior to normal vision, would it be acceptable and ethical to provide the treatment just to improve already perfect vision?” 

“It’s really relevant,” Neera said. “Artificial vision is groundbreaking and advances are constantly being made.”

In Career Prep, Maneera Duddu took home a first place award for her work. Entrants in this category were charged with conducting research on a selected technology-related career and then using that knowledge to prepare a resume and cover letter. Maneera chose the job of software developer.

Maneera and a number of other students are now preparing to go to the national TSA competition to be held at the end of June in Dallas. In the nationals, the Career Prep category will also include mock job interviews.

Beth Cohen is the club advisor and will travel with the students to the nationals in Dallas.

Here’s a complete list of awards at the state TSA competition: 

Aya Salim and Alexandra Szewc – First place in Agriculture And Biotechnology Design 

Maneera Duddu – First place in Career Prep

Neera Chattopadhyay and Olympia Su – Third place in Energy Sources

Jessica Tang and Charmaine Thomas – Third place in Environmental Focus 

Ryan Nguyen – First place in Flight

Jake Cerasoli, Maneera Duddu, and Stacey Tang – Second place in Geospatial Technology

Neera Chattopadhyay and Aya Salim – Second place in Medical Technology Issues 

Andres Cruz – Second place in Prepared Speech

Varshitha Devagiri, Hannah Lake, and Alexandra Szewc – Third place in STEM Animation

Esteban Cambronero, Neera Chattopadhyay, and Kelcie Keenan – Second place in Tech Bowl

David Boisvert, Esteban Cambronero, Naveen Kamath, Kelcie Keenan, and Nikhil Nandikanti – Third place in Video Game Design

Alexandra Szewc and Aya Salim show off the display for their first place winning project
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