A Contest in the Bronx Helps Young Scientists Explore

Apr 27, 2015

Credit: Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

By Winnie Hu

Lawrence Abu-Hammour always knew he wanted to do scientific research, but he did not get into the Bronx High School of Science or any of New York City’s other elite schools with robust science programs and activities.

Instead, he ended up at a small school, the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics. In his sophomore year, the school encouraged students to participate in a new science competition organized by Lehman College that would pair them with mentors to conduct research projects.

Lawrence was soon immersed in an experiment that used sunflowers to reduce lead in the environment. The next year, he built a self-driving, energy-efficient car meant to reduce air pollution. This year, Lawrence, a senior, used graphene electrodes to try to stimulate cell growth and activity in the brain cells of rats in an effort to find a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“I feel privileged that this is happening because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Lawrence, 17, said. “I finally get to carry my dream out, and there are students out there that don’t get this opportunity. I feel lucky.”


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