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SHHS Students Participate in Global Challenge to Assist During the COVID-19 Crisis

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June 20, 2020

Two Sleepy Hollow Science Research students participated in a global project to solve real world problems during the COVID-19 crisis. Sophomores, Ryan Lyppens,16, and Henry Poret, 15, worked with students from the Philippines, UK and Vietnam on the New York Academy of Sciences: Combatting COVID-19 Challenge.

The students discovered a process to combat the shortage of single use personal protective equipment (PPE) by creating reusable PPE that will protect healthcare workers from the coronavirus. Their research suggested using layers of fabric interwoven with silver thread, recognizing that silver ions kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, I felt helpless to stop it,” said Ryan. “It saddened and angered me to see that the only thing I was doing was staying at home. I needed to do more to help people. When I saw this research opportunity, I felt empowered to make a positive change in the world.”

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Henry said, “Ryan told me about the project, and not only did it seem like a fun, productive activity, but it was a chance to really help people. I feel really accomplished, and even if we don’t win, we all learned a lot, while enjoying the process.”

The students considered the benefits of reusable PPE that include less waste and the possibility of decreasing infection because fewer microbes would be transferred to surfaces. They relied upon many sources that included scientific databases, PPE manufacturers, global news media and the discussions of medical experts.

Ryan created the project and posted it on the Discussions page of Launchpad, a student instruction-oriented web site, so that anyone interested in what he wanted to do could join the team. “I received many applications to be part of my group; I only let the people who were the most qualified to join. My teammates were amazing people and dedicated to the cause.”

“This challenge provided an opportunity for our students to be part of a global team unified under a common goal of tackling this worldwide pandemic,” said Science Research Instructor Michele Zielinski.  “I am so proud of their ability to recognize a need, and work with a diverse team to creatively solve this problem.”

The team was up against hundreds of groups from around the world, some of whom, they heard, had government support. While they did not win the $500 travel scholarship to attend the 2020 Global STEM Alliance Summit at the New York Academy of Sciences, “The experience of working with amazing people from around the world and making a positive impact in the world is a victory in itself,” said Ryan.

Rising Seniors at SHHS, each of the boys is interested in pursuing STEM subjects–Ryanin biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering, Henry in engineering. And they plan to pursue the goals of their NYAS project, hoping to work with professionals and turn their theories into a reality by creating reusable PPE from their research.




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