Museum of Natural History retires competition

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This fall, the American Museum of Natural History officially ended its Young Naturalist Awards (YNA) competition. For the past eighteen years, this local competition was an opportunity for science research students to submit research papers for publication. Due to financial complications, however, the museum will no longer hold the competition.

Getting published in a scientific journal is difficult, even for professionals. YNA was a valuable resource for science research students who wanted to get their work into the field.

Although YNA was not limited to New York metro student residents, most submissions were from NYC students in grades 7-12. The inquiry-based competition encouraged students to conduct research and explore the natural world around them. Many students did so by communicating and partnering with professional scientists in laboratories.

Students from Townsend Harris’s junior and senior research classes participated in this event by submitting their Intel and sophomore research in-school projects.

Senior Ivy Lam, who was a YNA semifinalist last year for her project, “The Epigenetic Effect of Stimulants on Drosophila melanogaster,” explained, “YNA made it evident to me that my work had value and had encouraged me to further pursue my research.”

Regarding YNA’s termination, she commented, “It is disappointing that such a great competition has been discontinued and it is upsetting that many other young researchers will not be able to share the same experience.”

Science Research Teacher Phillip Porzio expressed disappointment as well.  He stated, “It’s sad. When funding is lost, outreach programs are usually the first to go. YNA allowed students to develop relationships with scientists.”

With the termination of YNA, the science research classes have decided to participate in other competitions such as the Google Science Fair, a nationwide competition

geared  toward science and technology. Last year, seniors were the only ones to compete in the Google Science Fair.

The two classes also took part in the Teptu Brink competition, limited to high school students in NYC and South Africa. It offers mentorship opportunities for the winners of the competition. This is the first year Teptu Brink is holding this competition, and like YNA, it encourages students to explore their surroundings and advance STEM research