Four PMHS seniors win awards at Westchester science fair, sending them to international competition

Four PMHS seniors win awards at Westchester science fair, sending them to international competition

Pelham Memorial High School students won multiple awards across categories at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF) in March, with seniors Lucia Lavallee, Brett Bober, Daniel Dusevic and Jack Dougherty securing the chance to attend the annual International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) fair later this spring.

The annual Westchester-Rockland science fair, WESEF, occurred virtually in March, with awards on March 23. In a non-Covid environment, the student presentations would be done on poster boards and held in a gym, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all presentations were through PowerPoint. The event lasted for approximately five hours in total, with about 500 students competing.

“With everything occurring virtually, we missed out on a lot of the creative process,” said Dougherty. “In a typical year, we’d be able to present our projects to one another, but we were unfortunately limited in doing such this year.”

Dougherty and Dusevic’s project is titled, “A Profile of Heavy Metal Contamination in Lower Hudson Valley Tributaries,” which they explain as, “We essentially visited nearby rivers and tested them for cadmium and lead concentration.”

They, alongside classmate Lavalie, won second place in the environmental science category, while Brett Bober won first place in environmental science, qualifying them all to participate in ISEF. Dougherty, Dusevic and Bober were also recipients of the Stockholm Water Prize, which allows them to compete in the state water prize competition.

“I’ll absolutely say it was a surprise especially because we are somewhat known as the misfits of the program, but we are undoubtedly proud of our success,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty looked back on the more memorable moments of competing. “My favorite part of WESEF was just working through the process with my partner, Dan, and mentor, Dr. Thomas Callahan. It was great to see the hard work we put in come to fruition in our final presentations.”

“I am so proud of all of our students,” said science research director Steven Beltecas. “They have not stopped working since the day the pandemic began in March of 2020. We had the most projects completed and submitted at a high level as well as the most awards recognizing the research our students conducted.”