NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — They have done it again! For the second year in a row students from a Long Island high school have taken the nation’s top prize in a prestigious science competition and they did it on a shrinking budget.
Three Long Island girls beat out thousands of the best and the brightest to take the nation’s top team science prize, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
“We were in awe staring at each other,” Zainab Mahmood said.
The trio from Hewlett High School beat out the boys to take the Siemen’s Competition Grand Prize for their brain power and discovery of a gene that makes plants resistant to air pollution.
The discovery could help plants survive droughts, floods, and ozone problems.
“A lot of crop loss is due to environmental factors. Farmers don’t usually think ‘my crops are dying due to ozone exposure,'” Priyanka Wadgaonkar said.
The students won the contest with only $500 of funding and a modest high school lab. Most students in the competition partner with universities.
“It’s really amazing to know that we can accomplish this in this setting,” Jiawen Pei said.
In spite of the back to back wins, budget cuts could soon close the lab. For the winners the competition was the culmination of three years of hard work and team work.
Judges said the group’s cohesion helped them move past the competition.
“That is what the judges said distinguished them from all other groups, they were like married couples,” Dr. Terrence Bissoondial said.
The girls still aren’t sure where they want to attend college but said that they want to study biomechanical engineering. Splitting a $100,000 scholarship award should give them a big head start.
The Hewlett students beat out 2,600 other students nationwide.
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