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School Pride at SCI Fair Awards


Two young scientists from Dickinson High School in Jersey City were named the top winners last night in The Jersey Journal's 51st annual Hudson County Science Fair.

Prachi Agrawal and Joseph Katigbak go on next month to represent the county at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno, Nev.

Prachi, 16, a sophomore, also won the high school gold medal for Behavioral Science, while Joseph, 18, a senior, took the gold in Chemistry.

The event, which was held in the Margaret Williams Theatre at New Jersey City University, drew more than 400 enthusiastic students, family members and guests.

Students from Dickinson, Union City High School North and South, and McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, in particular, competed for the loudest cheers in support of their respective medalists.

With each announcement of a winner from their school, the Dickinson cheering section stood and waved a school banner as they shouted out the names of their victorious colleagues who took 27 of about 160 high school awards.

Michael Corcoran, director of Dickinson's science research magnet program for the past 15 years, said of his students' performance: "It's just what we've done all along - we function like a sports team with peer work and cooperation."

Indeed, Prachi credited her friends and classmates with helping her develop her winning science project on "learning that mathematical principles are different and transferring them to everyday problems." She hopes to one day "help teachers apply math concepts in the abstract, concrete, and combined."

Joseph, who draped himself in the Dickinson banner as he ran onto the stage to accept his award, said his project involved the "synthesis of chemi-luminescent fluorene-based ligands to create organic diodes." Translation: he used NMR spectroscopy to expose molecular-sized energy - sort of "very small light bulbs."

Joseph said he was able to use laboratory facilities at NJCU to carry out his experiment.

Another special winner was Stephanie Calache, a senior at Union City High School North, who was awarded a paid four-year scholarship at NJCU after capturing the gold prize in medicine and health.

The fair, featuring more than 260 students from fifth through 12th grades, took place March 23 at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.

The high school gold medalists went on to superjudging on March 25, where the top two winners were determined.

In addition to The Jersey Journal, the fair is sponsored by Liberty Science Center (event host), New Jersey City University (awards ceremony host), PSE&G, EAI Inc., Fidelity Investments and COMCAST, with support from the Hudson County United Way as well as an anonymous longtime supporter of the fair.

The fair also receives help from the dozens of judges who volunteer their time.

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